“There are three rules for writing the novel. Unfortunately, no one knows what they are.” (W. SOMERSET MAUGHAM)

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

William Meredith 1919-2007

I have been told that when writers are experiencing a "block" or dryspell that it is good to wite anything, especially other poets' works( One must always remember to give credit though. ) This past Christmas my mother gave me a book that I very much wanted and probably would not have bought for myself due to the price. It is The Poets Laureate Anthology by Elizabeth Hun Schmidt.(thanks mom) This book is a compilation of every American Poet Laureate from the first: Joseph Auslander in 1937 to the current: W S Merwin 2010. For each, there is a brief description of how the poet felt about the post and what they did while appointed, followed by what is considered their signature piece as well as other significant works by that poet. What follows is a poem by William Meredith who served from 1978-1980.

Winter Verse for His Sister

Moonlight washes the west side of the house
As clean as bone, it carpets like a lawn
The stubbled field tilting eastward
Where there is no sign yet of dawn.
The moon is an angel with a bright light sent
To surprise me once before I die
With the real aspect of things.
It holds the light steady and makes no comment.

Practicing for death I have lately gone
To that other house
Where our parents did most of their dying,
Embracing and not embracing their conditions.
Our father built bookcases and little by little stopped reading,
Our mother cooked proud meals for common mouths.
Kindly, they raised two children. We raked their leaves
And cut their grass, we ate and drank with them.
Reconciliation was our long work, not all of it joyful.

Now outside my own house at a cold hour
I watch the noncommital angel lower
The steady lantern that's worn these clapboards thin
In a wash of moonlight, while men slept within,
Accepting and not accepting their conditions,
and the fingers of trees plied a deep carpet of decay
On the gravel web underneath the field,
And the field tilting always toward day.

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