Soliloquy at Times Square

By E.B. White

The time for little words is past;
We now speak only the broad impertinences.
I take your hand
Merely to help you cross the street
(We are such friends),
Choosing the long and formal phrase
At dinner we discuss, rather intelligently,
The things one should discuss at dinner. So.
How well we are in tune -- how easy
Every phrase! The long words come, fondling the ear,
Flattering the mind they come. Long words
Enjoy the patronage of noble minds,
The circumspection of this sanity.

How much is gone! How much went
When the little words went: peace,
Sandwiched in the space between madness and madness;
The quick exchange of every bright moment;
The animal alertness to the other’s heart;
The reality of nearness. Those things went
With the words.

Suppose I should forget, grow thoughtless --
What if the little words came back,
Running in upon me, running back
Like little children home from school?
Suppose I spoke -- oh, I don’t know --
Some vagrant phrase out of the summer!
What if I said: “I love you”? Something as simple
And as easy to the tongue as that--
Something as true? I’m only talking.
Give me your hand.
We must by all means cross this street.