This plot of ground
facing the waters of this inlet
is dedicated to the living presence of
Emily Dickinson Wellcome
who was born in England; married;
lost her husband and with
her five year old son
sailed for New York in a two-master;
was driven to the Azores;
ran adrift on Fire Island shoal,
met her second husband
in a Brooklyn boarding house,
went with him to Puerto Rico
bore three more children, lost
her second husband, lived hard
for eight years in St. Thomas,
Puerto Rico, San Domingo, followed
the oldest son to New York,
lost her daughter, lost her “baby,”
seized the two boys of
the oldest son by the second marriage
mothered them—they being
motherless—fought for them
against the other grandmother
and the aunts, brought them here
summer after summer, defended
herself here against thieves,
storms, sun, fire,
against flies, against girls
that came smelling about, against
drought, against weeds, storm-tides,
neighbors, weasels that stole her chickens,
against the weakness of her own hands,
against the growing strength of
the boys, against wind, against
the stones, against trespassers,
against rents, against her own mind.
She grubbed this earth with her own hands,
domineered over this grass plot,
blackguarded her oldest son
into buying it, lived here fifteen years,
attained a final loneliness and—

If you can bring nothing to this place
but your carcass, keep out.

Analysis, meaning and summary of William Carlos Williams's poem Dedication For A Plot Of Ground


  1. Melissa says:

    What a beautiful tribute! To highlight the truly meaningful accomplishments of the woman’s life. Not so much her social acheivements and such, but the concrete examples of how she truly cared for those under her stewardship. Thank you williams for portraying her actions in such a specific, concrete way as to create a near-literal image of this resiliant daughter of God.

  2. Trisha Jones says:

    i never thought about writing poems about other poets. that didnt even rhyme, but it was good! he made it sound like he knew her personally. maybe he was one of her sons! haha…

  3. paula anne says:

    man, no wonder she ended up staying inside that house writing poems and stashing them away like spare change she found on the ground. if i lived a life like that i would’ve done the same thing…

    he writes so well. his shorter poems are masterpieces in less than 10 lines, and when he writes longer ones, they’re still just as amazing. he doesn’t lose you at all.

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