Breughel and Williams and playgrounds

 

The paintings of Pieter Brueghel the Elder (Flemish, 1525-1569) were used as inspiration for a series of poems by by William Carlos Williams (American, 1883-1963), published in 1962, for which he was posthumously awarded the Pulitzer Prize.
This is “Children’s Games”
I
This is a schoolyard
crowded
with children
of all ages near a village
on a small stream
meandering by
where some boys
are swimming
bare-ass
or climbing a tree in leaf
everything
is motion
elder women are looking
after the small
fry
a play wedding a
christening
nearby one leans
hollering
into
an empty hogshead
II
Little girls
whirling their skirts about
until they stand out flat
tops pinwheels
to run in the wind with
or a toy in 3 tiers to spin
with a piece
of twine to make it go
blindman’s-buff follow the
leader stilts
high and low tipcat jacks
bowls hanging by the knees
standing on your head
run the gauntlet
a dozen on their backs
feet together kicking
through which a boy must pass
roll the hoop or a
construction
made of bricks
some mason has abandoned
III
The desperate toys
of children
their
imagination equilibrium
and rocks
which are to be
found
everywhere
and games to drag
the other down
blindfold
to make use of
a swinging
weight
with which
at random
to bash in the
heads about
them
Brueghel saw it all
and with his grim
humor faithfully
recorded
it

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