Friday, August 26, 2011
Plums in Summer: So Sweet & So Cold
This is just to say that I am unable to see a plate of ripe summer plums without hearing the words of the famous short poem by William Carlos Williams, in which he asks his wife to forgive him for eating the plums that were in the icebox.
Williams was a physician in Rutherford, New Jersey, where he was born in 1883. He and his wife Flossie raised their two children in the home where he also maintained his medical office; upstairs in the attic was a small room where he wrote many volumes of poetry and prose until his death in 1963.
When reading the poem, I picture Williams standing in the cool, dark kitchen early on a summer morning, eating the plums before going into his office. In his day, a plum was a plum; no multicolored sticker was required to describe its essence. Having lived half his life before the advent of refrigeration, Williams naturally used the word "icebox" in the poem, evoking an era long gone.
But the sensation of eating a piece of sweet, ripe fruit is timeless, and Williams captures it in just 33 words. His experience remains as vivid today as on the morning he wrote those words. Late summer is a good time to give in to the temptations of plums and poetry.
This Is Just To Say
I have eaten
that were in
you were probably
they were delicious
and so cold
William Carlos Williams