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Short poem

William Carlos Williams (1883-1963)

Danse Russe

              1If I when my wife is sleeping
              2and the baby and Kathleen
              3are sleeping
              4and the sun is a flame-white disc
              5in silken mists
              6above shining trees, --
              7if I in my north room
              8dance naked, grotesquely
              9before my mirror
            10waving my shirt round my head
            11and singing softly to myself:
            12"I am lonely, lonely.
            13I was born to be lonely,
            14I am best so!"
            15if I admire my arms, my face
            16my shoulders, flanks, buttocks
            17against the yellow drawn shades, --

            18who shall say I am not
            19the happy genius of my household?


1] In 1916 the Ballets Russes, led by composer Sergei Diaghilev and dancer Waslaw Nijinsky, performed in New York (Litz and MacGowen, 486).
William married Florence (Flossie) Herman in 1912 and by fall 1916 they had two boys.

2] Kathleen: Kathleen McBride, the Williams' orphan nanny.

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, A Book of Poems. Al Que Quiere! (Boston: The Four Seas Company, 1917): 44-45. York University Library Special Collections 5773.
First publication date: December 1916
Publication date note: Others 3.4 (Dec. 1916)
RPO poem editor: Ian Lancashire
RP edition: RPO 2000.
Recent editing: 2:2002/2/20

Composition date: 1916
Form note: unrhyming rhythmic lines

Other poems by William Carlos Williams