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Short poem

William Carlos Williams (1883-1963)

The crowd at the ball game


              1The crowd at the ball game
              2is moved uniformly

              3by a spirit of uselessness
              4which delights them --

              5all the exciting detail
              6of the chase

              7and the escape, the error
              8the flash of genius --

              9all to no end save beauty
            10the eternal --

            11So in detail they, the crowd,
            12are beautiful

            13for this
            14to be warned against

            15saluted and defied --
            16It is alive, venomous

            17it smiles grimly
            18its words cut --

            19The flashy female with her
            20mother, gets it --

            21The Jew gets it straight -- it
            22is deadly, terrifying --

            23It is the Inquisition, the

            25It is beauty itself
            26that lives

            27day by day in them
            28idly --

            29This is
            30the power of their faces

            31It is summer, it is the solstice
            32the crowd is

            33cheering, the crowd is laughing
            34in detail

            35permanently, seriously
            36without thought


23] Inquisition: perhaps the Roman Catholic tribunal for the exposition and persecution of heretics, only finally abolished in the early 19th century.

31] solstice: June 22, a point on the ecliptic at which the sun is further north from the celestial equator.

Online text copyright © 2003, Ian Lancashire for the Department of English, University of Toronto.
Published by the Web Development Group, Information Technology Services, University of Toronto Libraries.

Original text: William Carlos Williams, Spring and All ([Paris]: Contact, 1923): 93-95. PS 3545 .I544S7 1970 Victoria College Library
First publication date: August 1923
Publication date note: The Dial 75.2 (August 1923)
RPO poem editor: Ian Lancashire
RP edition: RPO 2000.
Recent editing: 2:2002/2/20

Form: couplets
Rhyme: unrhyming

Other poems by William Carlos Williams