And the Arabs Asked Terrible Questions …

And the Arabs Asked Terrible Questions … - Photographic Portrait of Lawrence Ferlinghetti
Photographic Portrait of Lawrence Ferlinghetti

The poem titled And the Arabs Asked Terrible Questions … was written by the important American poet and writer Lawrence Ferlinghetti (March 24, 1919) and is included in the collection Pictures of the gone world, published in 1955 by City Lights Publishers.

In introducing the anniversary edition of the collection in 2015, Lawrence Ferlingetti wrote that ‘there is a freshness of perception that only young eyes have, in the dandelion bloom of youth’.

With over a century of creativity on its back, and acclaimed in American letters and internationally as a emblematic figure that still has young eyes, he is a living literary monument.

His official declaration remains as such.

L. Ferlinghetti - And the Arabs Asked Terrible Questions …

And the Arabs asked terrible questions
and the Pope didn’t know what to say and the people
ran around in wooden shoes asking which way was the
head of Midas facing and everyone said

No instead of Yes

While still forever in the Luxembourg
gardens in the fountains of the Medicis were the
fat red goldfish and the fat white goldfish
and the children running around the pool
pointing and piping

Des poissons rouges!
Des poissons rouges!

but they ran off
and a leaf unhooked itself
and fell upon the pool
and lay like an eye winking  
and then the pool was very


and there was a dog
just standing there
at the edge of the pool
looking down

at the tranced fish

and not barking
or wavilig its funny tail or

so that

for a moment then

in the late November dusk

silence hung like a lost idea
and a statue turned

its head

Lawrence Ferlinghetti, 1955

Poem from the collection Pictures of the gone world (1955)

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