Pieter Brueghel’s Childrens Games

Pieter Brugel, 1500's, Painting of children at play.


William Carlos Williams Children’s Games

This is a schoolyard
crowded with children
of all ages near a village
on a small stream
meandering by
where some boys
are swimming bare-ass
or climbing a tree in leaf
everything is motion
elder women are looking
after the small fry
a play wedding
a christening nearby
one leans hollering into
an empty hogshead

Little girls whirling
their skirts about
until they stand out flat
tops pinwheels
to run in the wind with
or a toy in 3 tiers to spin
with a piece
of twine to make it go
blindman’s-buff follow the
stilts high and low
tipcat jacks bowls
hanging by the knees
standing on your head
run the gauntlet
a dozen on their backs
feet together kicking
through which a boy must pass
roll the hoop
or a construction
made of bricks
some mason has abandoned

The desperate toys
of children
their imagination equilibrium
and rocks which are to be
found everywhere
and games to drag
the other down
blindfold to make use of
a swinging weight
with which at random
to bash in the heads
about them.

Brueghel saw it all
and with his grim
humor faithfully
recorded it.