This Is Just to Say I Have Written a Blog Post Explaining the Icebox-Plum Meme

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The plums that were in the icebox. Photo: Anna Cinaroglu/Getty Images/iStockphoto

Back in 1934, William Carlos Williams sat down. Inspiration for his next poem struck him. I can just see it, he thought to himself. Eighty years from now, there will be a microblogging platform called Twitter where, in betwixt endless content about powerful men abusing women, and literal Nazis, people will delight in using my words to create tiny inside jokes for their friends. Yes, Williams muttered to himself. I must write this poem now so that it can become a meme in the year 2017. And so Williams picked up his pen and wrote “This Is Just to Say,” perhaps his most famous work behind “The Red Wheelbarrow.”

Here’s “This Is Just to Say,” just in case you’ve, say, forgotten everything you were taught in tenth-grade English class:

I have eaten

the plums

that were in

the icebox


and which

you were probably

saving

for breakfast


Forgive me

they were delicious

so sweet

and so cold

The poem has seen life as a meme before. Back in 2015, aping “This Is Just to Say” was en vogue online. “Williams did not become famous for writing poetry until he was almost too old to enjoy it,” Stephen Burt of Harvard told New York Magazine at the time. “I think he would have liked the attention.” Which is good because we’re doing this again. Except this time around, people aren’t imitating the form of the Williams poem with new content, but rather the opposite — taking his poem’s content and reappropriating it in new forms. Instead of the original gag — using the poem’s format to write about the topic at hand — people are just plucking the key terms — “icebox” and “plums” — and wedging them into song lyrics. Which is a markedly easier bit than trying to match Williams’s stanzas syllable for syllable while talking about Donald Trump or North Korea or Call Me by Your Name.

Forgive me.

Editor’s note: The account of William Carlos Williams’s decision to write ‘This Is Just to Say” is absolutely, 100 percent accurate, and we did not make it up.

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William Carlos Williams Icebox-Plum Poem Is Now Twitter Meme