Dunn, Stephen

Primary Category: Literature / Poetry

Genre: Poem

Annotated by:
Aull, Felice
  • Date of entry: Mar-26-1998
  • Last revised: Dec-01-2006


This 15-line poem considers how, through the ages, dwarves have been ridiculed. Something about their appearance makes us, in our "big, proper bodies" laugh at them. We "snicker" at the immensely obese as well, even as we are aware of the danger to their health. Then the narrator takes us one step further: "And imagine the small political base / of a fat dwarf."

In the final stanza, the "we" becomes restricted to the narrator and his friends, who are socializing over dinner and can "hardly contain" themselves. But does that let the rest of us--the complicitous larger audience--off the hook?


This short poem asks us to consider some of our deep-seated prejudices against those whose appearance differs from the "norm." What is unusual about this piece is the acknowledgment that we may recognize such a stance as being unfair at the same time that we are helpless to prevent ourselves from laughing or from being judgmental. The title, "Power," emphasizes how little power is held by those who fall out of the norm--how powerless they are against our ridicule. Useful for discussion of physician and medical student attitudes toward obese and deformed patients.

Primary Source



W. W. Norton

Place Published

New York