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Richard Wilbur’s Words Inside of Words
{A Bumbershoot Very Special Feature}

Words Inside of Words For Children and Others

If he doesn’t want to play, a buffalo
Turns up his nose by way of saying no,
But if he feels a rush of friendliness,
His eyes grow warm by way of saying yes.

Inside of sacred there’s an acre, and
No doubt that acre’s in the Holy Land.
Still, I am sure that blessings can be found,
With any luck, on any piece of ground.

There’s a stove in Westover, Mass. If there were not,
Somebody’s cocoa never would be hot.

Red is in credit, but don’t be misled:
You won’t get credit if you’re in the red.

There’s a lion in scallion!  Why, I can’t explain.
One has no roots! The other has no mane!
Then what’s their common bond? I see the light:
Both lions and scallions have been known to bite.

A choo choo is a train, we know, but who’ll
Explain why just one choo is found in school?
I can explain that choo in school with ease:
All of that chalk-dust makes the children sneeze.

A hobo’s someone who knows how to ride
Across America from side to side
Without a ticket, watching the land unroll
From boxcars full of lumber, wheat, or coal.
When he gets tired, and needs some ocean air,
He’s in Rehoboth Beach, in Delaware.

My mother told me I should sit up straight
And not bend down above my dinner plate.
I’m proud to say that you have never seen me
Resting my chin in spinach or zucchini.