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By Weldon Kees

September was when it began.

Locusts dying in the fields; our dogs

Silent, moving like shadows on a wall;

And strange worms crawling; flies of a kind

We had never seen before; huge vineyard moths;

Badgers and snakes, abandoning

Their holes in the field; the fruit gone rotten;

Queer fungi sprouting; the fields and woods

Covered with spiderwebs; black vapors

Rising from the earth—all these,

And more began that fall. Ravens flew round

The hospital in pairs. Where there was water,

We could hear the sound of beating clothes

All through the night. We could not count

All the miscarriages, the quarrels, the jealousies.

And one day in a field I saw

A swarm of frogs, swollen and hideous,

Hundreds upon hundreds, sitting on each other,

Huddled together, silent, ominous,

And heard the sound of rushing wind.


Weldon Kees, "The Coming of the Plague" from The Collected Poems of Weldon Kees edited by Donald Justice by permission of the University of Nebraska Press. Copyright 1962, 1975, by the University of Nebraska Press. © renewed 2003 by the University of Nebraska Press.

Source: The Collected Poems of Weldon Kees (Poetry, 1975)

  • Mythology & Folklore
  • Nature

Poet Bio

Weldon Kees
Weldon Kees was born in Beatrice, Nebraska and attended Doane College, the University of Missouri and the University of Nebraska, earning his degree in 1935. In addition to writing, Kees was passionate about painting and throughout his life created many forms of art including experimental films. In 1955 Kees took his sleeping bag and his savings account book and disappeared, leaving his car on the Golden Gate Bridge. It is not known whether he killed himself or went to Mexico. See More By This Poet

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