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
Revolution

It is beauty itself
that lives

day by day in them
idly—

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

Analysis, meaning and summary of William Carlos Williams's poem The Crowd At The Ball Game

10 Comments

  1. Mr Mac says:

    I just like to say “Taquantatanta Lamauntafanta”.

  2. Matt Lilly says:

    This poem reminds me of Julius Caesar’s rise to power and the Roman Coliseum. Julius Caesar was a diplomatic and military genius. He escaped accusations of treason, caused the Roman Senate to make several critical errors, and gave show of his military genius in the battle of Pharsalus.
    The Coliseum was used as a means of entertainment. What better way to keep an impoverished people from revolting then to keep them entertained and fed. The Coliseum gave them both.
    I agree with Derek Burns about the Roman Catholic Tribunal as well.
    This said I think he’s not just warning against the dangers of crowd mentality but about organized sports. The stadiums used in today’s sports may not all be a giant circle, but the crowd still “encircles” the field. The crowd is just as obnoxious as it was in the Roman time period. But I think most of all he’s illustrating a parallel in hopes that we won’t become so consumed with sporting events that we begin to forget about what the government is doing.

  3. Derek Burns says:

    I think the Inquisition in line 23 is the Roman Catholic tribunal for the exposition and persecution of heretics, only finally abolished in the early 19th century. Williams could be saying a crowd is like this in the way it discriminates and persecutes

  4. Taquantatanta Lamauntafanta says:

    Really great poem. It has alot of powerful messages.

  5. Matt says:

    This poem represents mob mentality, and the speaker seems to have an omniscient point of view like that of a blimp driver floating over the game seeing the crowd as one living, breathing, thinking creature rather than many.

  6. Jennifer says:

    This poem is quite referential to the works of Emily Dickinson. Use of hyphens is the first key. In addition, short microcosms consume each stanza. Finally, metaphor is apparent; such as: “a spirit of uselessness which delights them-“. This compares the crowd to “uselessness”.

  7. Rob says:

    I think it kind of shows how a crowd can be cruel. Discriminatory or otherwise. This poem really made me think..

  8. Trisha Jones says:

    that reminded me of the kkk

  9. Robert Frost says:

    A great indictment of herd mentality.Personification showing how a crowd/mob can take on a life of it’s own.I just heard that a 21 year old jounalism student was struck dead in Boston, while she was in a crowd of revelers celebrating the winning of the pennant.

  10. Britt says:

    this poem is a very very good poem!! 🙂

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