Where the Wild Things Are

by gadflypoetry

Although it is perhaps not properly a “poem,” in honor of the passing of legendary writer and poet Maurice Sendak, today I post the full text of his masterpiece, Where the Wild Things Are. Of course, the text is greatly diminished without his equally spectacular illustrations, but in this context, I feel that the sparkle of his language shines through all the more.

Where the Wild Things Are

The night Max wore his wolf suit and made mischief of one kind and another his mother called him “WILD THING!” and Max said “ I’LL EAT YOU UP!” so he was sent to bed without eating anything.

That very night in Max’s room a forest grew and grew and grew until his ceiling hung with vines and the walls became the world all around and an ocean tumbled by with a private boat for Max and he sailed off through the night and day and in and out of weeks and almost over a year to where the wild things are.

And when he came to the place where the wild things are they roared their terrible roars and gnashed their terrible teeth and rolled their terrible eyes and showed their terrible claws til Max said “BE STILL!” and tamed them with the magic trick or staring into all their yellow eyes without blinking once and they were frightened and called him the most wild thing of all and made king of all wild things.

“And now,” cried Max, “let the wild rumpus start!”

“Now stop!” Max said and sent the wild things off to bed without their supper. And Max the king of all wild things was lonely and wanted to be where someone loved him best of all.

Then all around from away across the world he smelled good things to eat so he gave up being king of where the wild things are.

But the wild things cried, “Oh please don’t go–we’ll eat you up–we love you so!” And Max said, “No!”

The wild things roared their terrible roars and gnashed their terrible teeth and rolled their terrible eyes and showed their terrible claws but Max stepped into his private boat and waved good-bye and sailed back over a year and in and out of weeks and through the day and into the night of his very own room where he found his supper waiting for him and it was still hot.

by Maurice Sendak

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