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The Speakers

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“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: The Collected Poems of Weldon Kees (2003)

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

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The Speakers

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