During the epidemic a young girl becomes ill with typhus and almost dies. The woman who lives next door takes good care of her and she manages to survive. The family sends her to convalesce with relatives in Odessa. Ready to return home, she buys some plums to bring her family as a gift. However, she ends up eating them all on the train. At home she finds that her sister, Lisa, had died of typhus. They took her to the cemetery in a box, but brought the empty box home because they were so poor. [34 lines]


This is a narrative poem that Anton P. Chekhov might have written--life and death in 34 lines. The family is poor; the epidemic occurs; the daughter gets typhus and survives; her sister dies. Sounds pretty miserable, doesn't it? But the plums save the poem. The plums are juicy, generous, life affirming, and ultimately too good to carry home.

Primary Source

Caviare at the Funeral


Franklin Watts

Place Published

New York