“The Crowd At the Ball Game,” by William Carlos Williams

Published 1923 in The Dial, this poem by William Carlos Williams depicts the growing popularity and diversity of baseball in the early twentieth century.  During the 1920s, baseball became one of the biggest forms of entertainment in urban America.  American workers were known to gather around newspapers to read box scores, and those that could manage it flocked to the new ballparks that were being built.  The crowds at games came to represent the melting pot that America was becoming, as working-class immigrants took as much an interest in the game as the middle- to upper-classes did in baseball’s early years.


The crowd at the ball game
is moved uniformly

by a spirit of uselessness
which delights them—

all the exciting detail
of the chase

and the escape, the error
the flash of genius—

all to no end save beauty
the eternal—

So in detail they, the crowd,
are beautiful

for this
to be warned against

saluted and defied—
It is alive, venomous

it smiles grimly
its words cut—

The flashy female with her
mother, gets it—

The Jew gets it straight— it
is deadly, terrifying—

It is the Inquisition, the

It is beauty itself
that lives

day by day in them

This is
the power of their faces

It is summer, it is the solstice
the crowd is

cheering, the crowd is laughing
in detail

permanently, seriously
without thought

4 Comments on ““The Crowd At the Ball Game,” by William Carlos Williams”

  1. mtk says:

    excellent poem from the plum thief. Like your site. will check back. Who’s your team?

    • Thank you very much! I am a Kansas City Royals fan. They’re off to a great start this year, hopefully they’ll keep it up! How about you?

      • mtk says:

        Royals have had some impressive (and to me) surprising wins! Nice. I am a Giant fan – hence my site Giants Baseball Corner. I am going to try to stream the game live on the radio rtoday. just about to have first pitch.! woo hoo love baseball.

  2. steve says:

    the quizenberry

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