March 27, 2009


ogden nash

“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.”

Two sentences that could have come from some generic romance novel or a post-it note on the refrigerator. And yet when a famous author/poet fragments them, seemingly at random, they become, arguably, one of the most famous modern short poems.


This Is Just to Say
by William Carlos Williams

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

You can get different meanings out of this, ones that you believe are important or insightful because there were none put in. There are no guidelines, no clues, no limitations. You’re just making up the meaning.

You can see where this originated. He ate the damn plums and felt guilty about it and wrote an apology. It is our expectations that there is more to this, some deeper truth, that make it meaningful, not the author’s content.

He was greedy, guilty, and then contrite.

My own opinion, in absolute seriousness, is that this Ogden Nash (pictured) ditty is, in fact, the most important short poem.

Candy is dandy
but liquor is quicker.

Think about that for a few moments. In just seven words, two rhymes, he exposes and examines one of the most important human conditions – the relationship of men and women.

“Candy is dandy”. Yes, it is. A thoughtful gift, obtained with effort and offered with affection, a token of feelings, and the result is hoped to be intimacy.

“But liquor is quicker”. Why bother? Get the bitch drunk and have your way. And then you’re outta there.

William Carlos could learn from this.


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