The Speakers

By Weldon Kees 1914–1955 Weldon Kees
“A equals X,” says Mister One.   
“A equals B,” says Mister Two.   
“A equals nothing under the sun   
But A,” says Mister Three. A few   
Applaud; some wipe their eyes;   
Some linger in the shade to see   
One and Two in neat disguise   
Decapitating Mister Three.

“This age is not entirely bad.”
It’s bad enough, God knows, but you   
Should know Elizabethans had   
Sweeneys and Mrs. Porters too.   
The past goes down and disappears,   
The present stumbles home to bed,   
The future stretches out in years
That no one knows, and you’ll be dead.

Weldon Kees, "The Speakers" from The Collected Poems of Weldon Kees edited by Donald Justice by permission of the University of Nebraska Press. Copyright 1962, 1975, by the University of Nebraska Press. © renewed 2003 by the University of Nebraska Press.

Source: Poetry (May 1939).


This poem originally appeared in the May 1939 issue of Poetry magazine

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May 1939
 Weldon  Kees


Weldon Kees was born in Beatrice, Nebraska and attended Doane College, the University of Missouri and the University of Nebraska, earning his degree in 1935. In addition to writing, Kees was passionate about painting and throughout his life created many forms of art including experimental films. In 1955 Kees took his sleeping bag and his savings account book and disappeared, leaving his car on the Golden Gate Bridge. It is not . . .

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SUBJECT History & Politics, Social Commentaries

Poetic Terms Rhymed Stanza

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