Tuesday, September 3, 2013

The Crowd at the Ball Game Is Moved Uniformly by a Spirit of Uselessness Which Delights Them


William Carlos Williams

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

It is beauty itself
that lives

day by day in them

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


  1. Williams's poem is not a celebration of America's favorite national pastime, but a dire premonition of the meaning of mass hysteria, of the power of media to manipulate on a mass scale, to promote hatred and fear and violence. Mass media may be the ultimate game.

    Curtis Fayville


  2. today's also the 43rd anniversary of Doc Ellis's acid-fueled no-hitter.


  3. Baseball is fascist? No, only strikeouts according to Crash Davis. Groundballs are more democratic.


    Abandonment to beauty likewise fascist? C'mon, doc. If so, that puts the lie to the old "truth is beauty" chestnut. Maybe he was being ironic with that whole "the crowd is beautiful" thing.

    Now football, that's one to get the old fascistic, war drum juices flowing. Its celebration of violence, its militaristic campaigning, its struggle for territory. (Ask George Carlin: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aoWsPRzzia8 Is it any wonder (coincidence? Serendipity?) the U.S. is contemplating military action just as the helmetball seasons are getting underway?