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Short poem

William Carlos Williams (1883-1963)


              1The little sparrows
              2hop ingenuously
              3about the pavement
              5with sharp voices
              6over those things
              7that interest them.
              8But we who are wiser
              9shut ourselves in
            10on either hand
            11and no one knows
            12whether we think good
            13or evil.

            14              Meanwhile,
            15the old man who goes about
            16gathering dog-lime
            17walks in the gutter
            18without looking up
            19and his tread
            20is more majestic than
            21that of the Episcopal minister
            22approaching the pulpit
            23of a Sunday.
            24                     These things
            25astonish me beyond words.


1] An earlier version (1914) was first published by Rod Townley in The Early Poetry of William Carlos Williams (1975).

16] dog-lime: not in the Oxford English Dictionary, "excrement intended for fertilizer."

21] Episcopal: of the Anglican church, as naturalized in the United States (from the term for "bishop").

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): 23-24. York University Library Special Collections 5773.
First publication date: August 1915
Publication date note: Others 1.2 (August 1915)
RPO poem editor: Ian Lancashire
RP edition: RPO 2000.
Recent editing: 2:2002/2/20

Form note: short unrhyming rhythmical lines

Other poems by William Carlos Williams