This Is Just To Say

This Is Just To Say

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This Is Just to Say is the title of a poem by the early 20th Century American poet William Carlos Williams. Due to the poem's original fame, rhythmic timbre, short length, and relatively common subject matter, it is frequently parodied online, where users substitute their own subjects into the poem's text, often retaining the verse structure and the significant line breaks.


This Is Just To Say was first published by William Carlos Williams in 1934. It is considered a canonical work of Imagist poetry.[1] The original text is as follows:

I have eaten
the plums
that were in
the icebox

and which
you were probably
for breakfast

Forgive me
they were delicious
so sweet
and so cold

According to New York Magazine,[2] parodies of the poem date back to at least the 1960s, with Kenneth Koch's "Variations on a Theme by William Carlos Williams."[9] Koch would go on to advocate using "This is Just to Say" as a teaching tool in his 1970 book Wishes, Lies, and Dreams: Teaching Children to Write Poetry[10] where he offered the poem as a model that young poets could riff off of to improve their skills.

The first early evidence of parody being written online is an allusion to a thread that existed on the "Straight Dope" message board, but was deleted in 2002. [2][3]


The easily parodic nature of the poem has been noted frequently in popular culture. In 2008, the radio show This American Life included an explanation of the spoofable qualities of the poem (and several spoofs of their own) in the second act of an episode entitled "Mistakes Were Made".[17]

Spoofs of the poem have been featured on web sites such as The Millions, Jezebel, and Metacritic.[4][5][6] Creating spoofs of the poem continues to be popular on Twitter, where the bot @JustToSayBot tweets a new version of the poem every hour.[7] Many tweeted parodies of the poem have gone viral. Posting spoofs or parodies of the poem is also popular on Tumblr.[8]

Song Lyric Variations

In late November of 2017, a popular trend emerged on Twitter in which users remixed the words of the poem so that they'd read as the lyrics to popular songs. On November 27th, Twitter user @merrittk[11] tweeted a parody of the poem set to Weezer's "Say It Ain't So," gaining over 740 retweets and 3,900 likes (shown below).

merritt k @merrittk Follow somebody's sweet plums are crowding my icebox somebody's cold plums are giving me chills 2:46 PM-27 Nov 2017

This inspired others to create interpretations of the poem set to various popular songs. One of the most popular tweets, posted by @thwphipps[12] set the poem to Lou Bega's "Mambo No. 5", gaining over 3,500 retweets and 13,000 likes (shown below, left). Twitter user @Crillfactor[13] set the poem to "All Star", gaining over over 360 retweets and 1,500 likes (shown below, right).

thom @thwphipps Follow 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 7:08 AM-28 Nov 2017 CR/LF, Actor @CrillFactor Follow hey now you're an icebox get your plums on SO sweet 3:10 AM-29 Nov 2017

The spread of the jokes were covered by Twitter Moments[14] and Daily Dot.[15] An explainer for the meme as well as its earlier parodies was posted by Quora.[16]

Various Examples

Your Trusted Wizard @Choplogik Follow ) 、/ HEY i just met you and this is CRAzy but the plums in the icebox i ate them maybe 7:44 PM -28 Nov 2017 Sean T. Collins @theseantcollins Following Blackbird singing in the dead of night Take these breakfast plums and learn to eat All your life You were only waiting for a meal this cold and sweet 1:32 AM-29 Nov 2017 Meghan McCarrorn @megmccarron Follow Plums are my fire The sweet desire This is just to say Iwant it that way Tell me why Tell me why Tell me why You left them in the ice box Like a henhouse and l'm the fox l ate them anyway Because I want it that way 12:03 AM-29 Nov 2017 thom @thwphipps Follow now l'm falling asleep and she's eaten my plums now he's opened the icebox and she's taking a plum now I'm looking for plums And my stomach feels sick now it's all my head So sweet and so cold now 5:41 PM - 27 Nov 2017 from Richmond, London

Various Examples

on Deity Of Religion @DeityOfReligion Follow I have eaten the pokemon in the pokedex and which you were probably saving for the tournament Forgive me had no plums today 4:39 PM-28 Jan 2015 わ t31 ★4 Lindsay Small-Butera @SmallLindsay Follow I have eaten the chipotle that was in the fridge & which you were probably saving for 2am Forgive me it was delicious so soggy & so gross 10:00 PM-2 Jul 2015 わ 14 ★50 Yagathai @Yagathai Follow @emilytheslayer This is just to say I have taken the kryptonite that was in the Batcave and which you were probably saving to defeat Clark 7:42 PM-25 May 2013 わ 2 ★3 Kieran Healy @kjhealy Follow This is just to say I have put the women in the binders Forgive me they left work early now dinner is so cold. 10:35 PM-16 Oct 2012 わ 1,222 ★446 stvnrlly @stvnrlly Follow I have closed the tabs that were in the browser and which you were probably saving to read Forgive me they hogged memory and were so old 12:06 PM-30 Jun 2015 わ 1,096 ★ 1,421 stvnrlly @stvnrlly Follow I have closed the tabs that were in the browser and which you were probably saving to read Forgive me they hogged memory and were so old 12:06 PM-30 Jun 2015 わ 1,096 ★ 1,421

Search Interest

Note: this refers to the poem as a whole, not just parodies of it.

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