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

Words Inside of Words For Children and Others

In fairy stories, when the hero tries
To gain the princess, or some other prize,
his greatest trials come when some huge troll
Or ogre blocks his progress toward the goal.
(Luckily, he’s been taught a magic science
For getting rid of hero-eating giants.)

If you were outdoors at the crack of dawn,
You’d see some water-jewels on the lawn,
And if you looked a little farther, you
Might see some dew upon the sidewalk, too.

When we rose up against the English king,
The bell of Liberty began to ring,
And told us to make good our Declaration
And turn our colonies into a nation,
And fight a war against the Crown, and win it.
That’s why rebellion has a bell within it.

When there is rain inside your brain, my pet,
It means that your opinions are all wet.

Why do we find an ear inside a pearl?
Perhaps it’s to remind us that a girl
Regards an ear as useful both for hearing
And as a place to hang a nice pearl earring.

Down at the corner grocery, people call
Potatoes “fingerlings” if they are small,
And that is odd, since everybody knows
That in potatoes there are also toes.
Potatoes also have both skins and eyes!
I wonder if they’re people in disguise.

There’s a wren in Lawrence, Kansas! Which is not
To say that wrens are rare in any spot.
Look out the window, and I bet you’ll see
A wren who’s staring at you from a tree.