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Free Verse
[Page 4]

Two Examples (Sandburg and Williams)

Here are two full poems in free verse from two of its great practitioners, the aforementioned Carl Sandburg and William Carlos Williams.






  They All Want to Play Hamlet

     Carl Sandburg



  They all want to play Hamlet.

  They have not exactly seen their 

       fathers killed

  Nor their mothers in a frame-up 

       to kill, 

  Nor an Ophelia dying with a 

       dust gagging the heart, 

  Not exactly the spinning circles 

       of singing golden spiders, 

  Not exactly this have they got 

       at nor the meaning of flowersó

        O flowers, flowers slung by 

       a dancing girlóin the saddest 

       play the inkfish, Shakespeare, 

       ever wrote; 

  Yet they all want to play Hamlet 

       because it is sad like all actors 

       are sad and to stand by an open 

       grave with a jokerís skull in the 

       hand and then to say over slow 

       and say over slow wise, keen, 

       beautiful words masking a heart 

       thatís breaking, breaking, 

  This is something that calls and 

       calls to their blood. 

  They are acting when they talk 

       about it and they know it is 

       acting to be particular about 

       it and yet: They all want to 

       play Hamlet.





"The Red Wheelbarrow," by Williams, remains under copyright, so you have to follow the link.
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