Don't smile please

Since the primary school is next door

You can't help passing the playground
But don't you smile at the children
Whether a small girl or a little boy
Don't you even look
You know what people will think
And you really can't blame them.

What a world we live in! What went wrong?
If there's another world to come
Let's hope it's one where people smile
And you can smile back safely.

Once they asked you to return their ball
It had sailed over the palings -
Eyes cast discreetly upwards, you stepped
Into the street and were nearly run down
Still, a little boy said 'Thank you, mister'
A small girl almost smiled.

from Collected Poems (Carcanet, 1999), copyright © D. J. Enright 1999, used by permission of the author's estate and the publisher.

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1Paradise Illustrated: A Sequence

2History of World Languages

3Since Then

4The Noodle-Vendor's Flute

5Dreaming in the Shanghai Restaurant

6Displaced Person Looks at a Cage-Bird

7The Poor Wake Up Quickly

8In Memoriam

9Board of Selection

10Combat Camera

11R-and-R Centre: An Incident from the Vietnam War

12A Liberal Lost

13Seminar on contemporary Chinese writing

14Don't smile please

15All the things

16City sorrows


18Poetical Justice

19A Memory

20Filling in a hospital registration form

21Postoperative muzziness

22Night in Bay 3

23Through the window

24Warnings, warnings!

Books by D. J. Enright