In 1934, upon writing his poem “This Is Just To Say,” William Carlos Williams could not have known that his words would be immortalized 83 years later in a viral meme sweeping Twitter (three words which he would not have recognized). He could not have guessed that his simple poem would be reworked and distributed by thousands as a welcome distraction from a rushed and polarizing tax bill and a never-ending stream of high-profile sexual assault cases.
No, Williams could not have known — but the randomness of his poem about plums in an icebox being lauded as 2017’s latest meme is part of its effervescent charm.
Here is Williams’ famous poem about admitting guilt for eating plums:
This Is Just To Say
I have eaten
that were in
you were probably
they were delicious
and so cold
The internet has latched onto the charming, sugary-sweet simplicity of Williams’ words with all the hunger and ferocity of — well, Williams… eating delicious, sweet and cold plums. The words “plums” and “icebox” have been plugged into songs from Smash Mouth to Fall Out Boy to Eminem and the meme shows no signs of fading away anytime soon.
IM COMING OUT OF MY FRIDGE
AND I AM FEELING QUITE FULL
I HAVE EATEN YOUR PLUMS
THEY WERE SO SWEET AND COLD
— jonny sun (@jonnysun) December 1, 2017
a little bit of cold plums in my life
a little bit of icebox by my side
a little bit of breakfast is what you need
a little bit of forgiveness, what I seek
a little bit of delicious, thats those plums
a little bit of sweet plums all night long
a little bit of cold plums here I am
— thom (@thwphipps) November 28, 2017
J O L E N E
I'm begging of you
Please don't eat my plums
— Sarah Gailey (@gaileyfrey) December 1, 2017
I heard there was a set of words
That the kids memed and confused the olds
But you don't really care for poems, do you?
Well it goes like this: the plums, the box,
The sweet cold taste, and the breakfast lost,
The baffling tweets reworking Carlos Williams
— Michaela Joffe (@joffeorama) November 29, 2017
And I find it kinda funny
I find it kinda sad
That your breakfast for tomorrow
Was the plums that I just had
— apples georg 🐋 (@logicbutton) November 29, 2017
Well, the plums start comin' and they won't stop comin'.
Gotta hit the icebox for some more cold plummin'
Didn't make sense to eat lukewarm plums
You got the icebox, so go chill them, son
— Sam (@halborski) November 28, 2017
Take me down to icebox city / Where the breakfast's sweet and the plums are chilly
— Miranda Martini (@mandsypants) November 30, 2017
HEY i just met you
and this is CRAzy
but the plums in the icebox
i ate them maybe
— regular gem (@Choplogik) November 28, 2017
His plums are sweaty,
You’d probably saved for breakfast, ready,
Delicious but he wants forgiveness for the petty
This is just to say,
You only get one shot…
— Anil Dash 😷 (@anildash) November 29, 2017
Many are baffled by the popularity of the meme — and more still have questions about the original poem, like how plums should be eaten and what this poem has done to plum statistics.
Please someone tell me why the plums in the icebox is a meme now; how did this come to pass
— Megan Lavengood 🍑 (@meganlavengood) November 28, 2017
I know william carlos williams is the only poet twitter knows but why am I suddenly seeing dozens of tweets like 'my neck / my back / my plums and my icebox'
— general yikes (@said_mitch) November 29, 2017
“average person eats 3 of your plums a year" factoid actually just statistical error. average person steals 0 breakfast plums per year. William Carlos Williams, who lives in an ice box steals over 10,000 each day, is an outlier adn should not have been counted
— R Ray (@R_Ray_M) December 2, 2017
Still, as a society — we need this.