Why We Are Truly a Nation

By William Matthews 1942–1997 William Matthews
Because we rage inside
the old boundaries,
like a young girl leaving the Church,   
scared of her parents.

Because we all dream of saving   
the shaggy, dung-caked buffalo,   
shielding the herd with our bodies.

Because grief unites us,
like the locked antlers of moose   
who die on their knees in pairs.

William Matthews, “Why We Are Truly a Nation” from Selected Poems and Translations, 1969-1991. Copyright © 1992 by William Matthews. Reprinted with the permission of Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved, www.houghtonmifflinbooks.com.

Source: Selected Poems and Translations 1969-1991 (1992)

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Poet William Matthews 1942–1997

POET’S REGION U.S., Midwestern

Subjects Social Commentaries, Heroes & Patriotism

Poetic Terms Free Verse

 William  Matthews

Biography

William Matthews's poetry has earned him a reputation as a master of well-turned phrases, wise sayings, and rich metaphors. Much of Matthews's poetry explores the themes of life cycles, the passage of time, and the nature of human consciousness. In another type of poem, he focuses on his particular enthusiasms: jazz music, basketball, and his children. His early writing was free-form and epigrammatic. As his career has . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Social Commentaries, Heroes & Patriotism

POET’S REGION U.S., Midwestern

Poetic Terms Free Verse

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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