Things

By William Jay Smith b. 1918
Trains are for going,
Boats are for rowing,
Seeds are for sowing,
Noses for blowing,
        And sleeping’s for bed.

Dogs are for pawing,
Logs are for sawing,
Crows are for cawing,
Rivers for thawing,
        And sleeping’s for bed.

Flags are for flying,
Stores are for buying,
Glasses for spying,
Babies for crying,
        And sleeping’s for bed.

Cows are for mooing,
Chickens for shooing,
Blue is for bluing,
Things are for doing,
        And sleeping’s for bed.

Games are for playing,
Hay is for haying,
Horses for neighing,
Saying’s for saying,
        And sleeping’s for bed.

Money’s for spending,
Patients for tending,
Branches for bending,
Poems for ending,
        And sleeping’s for bed.

William Jay Smith, "Things" from Laughing Time: Collected Nonsense. Copyright © 1980 by William Jay Smith.  Reprinted by permission of Farrar, Straus and Giroux.

Source: Laughing Time: Collected Nonsense (Farrar Straus and Giroux, 1980)

Discover this poem’s context and related poetry, articles, and media.

Poet William Jay Smith b. 1918

Biography

William Jay Smith told Contemporary Authors: "I am a lyric poet, alert, I hope, as my friend Stanley Kunitz has pointed out, 'to the changing weathers of a landscape, the motions of the mind, the complications and surprises of the human comedy.' I believe that poetry should communicate: it is, by its very nature, complex, but its complexity should not prevent its making an immediate impact on the reader. Great poetry must have . . .

Continue reading this biography

Report a problem with this poem

Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

This poem has learning resources.

This poem is good for children.

This poem has related video.

This poem has related audio.