How William Carlos Williams’s famous poem about plums in the icebox became a meme.
The recent explosion of plum memes on social media — specifically, references to William Carlos Williams’s famous poem “This Is Just To Say,” which you probably studied in ninth grade and still remember — is not a random occurrence.
But if you’re feeling confused, worry not, fellow internet traveler. While it’s true that millennial humor has been shamed here and there for its apparent tendency toward Dadaist nonsense, layers of built-in meme-savviness, and bleak absurdism …
The stranger cries out for someone, anyone, to explain what twitter means but we keep talking about baby shoes and plums and when he’s at his lowest we just start chanting about orbs. He is a broken man
— Edcrab (@Edcrab_) November 30, 2017
… the rise of the “This Is Just To Say” meme has a couple of logical, easy-to-understand precursors that even those most wearied and burdened by referential internet jokes can appreciate.
Let’s take a look at them!
The “This Is Just To Say” plum meme has its roots in an Ernest Hemingway “baby shoes” meme
I know, I know, it’s Friday, and you weren’t expecting to be saddled with one highbrow literary reference, much less two. But pay attention, because this is Internet Culture at its coolest.
As a refresher, here is the text of “This Is Just To Say,” which Williams published in 1934:
I have eaten
that were in
you were probably
they were delicious
and so cold
It’s a good poem! But it’s not the only element present in the jokes about plums that are currently dominating Twitter. Instead, we must start with Ernest Hemingway’s famous “six-word novel,” which spans all of a single sentence:
For sale: baby shoes. Never worn.