In Breughel’s great picture, The Kermess,
the dancers go round, they go round and
around, the squeal and the blare and the
tweedle of bagpipes, a bugle and fiddles
tipping their bellies, (round as the thick-
sided glasses whose wash they impound)
their hips and their bellies off balance
to turn them. Kicking and rolling about
the Fair Grounds, swinging their butts, those
shanks must be sound to bear up under such
rollicking measures, prance as they dance
in Breughel’s great picture, The Kermess

Analysis, meaning and summary of William Carlos Williams's poem The Dance


  1. courtney says:

    this is the most amazing poem i have ever read
    -courtney s.

  2. ariel says:

    i loved it! it is beautiful

  3. Brandi Svennings says:

    sounds like he’s talking about a horse to me!

  4. John Carter says:

    I just looked this poem up online after not having seen it for several years because I thought I might set it to music; however, after reading it again I find it hardly needs musical setting, since William’s rollicking rhythms already do such a great job of suggesting the blare of fiddles and the stomp of feet. If you want to really understand the poem then you should find Breughel’s great painting “The Kermess” online and SEE what Williams was writing about. Cheers poetry lovers!

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