The Illiterate

By William Meredith 1919–2007 William Meredith
Touching your goodness, I am like a man
Who turns a letter over in his hand
And you might think this was because the hand
Was unfamiliar but, truth is, the man
Has never had a letter from anyone;
And now he is both afraid of what it means
And ashamed because he has no other means
To find out what it says than to ask someone.

His uncle could have left the farm to him,
Or his parents died before he sent them word,
Or the dark girl changed and want him for beloved.
Afraid and letter-proud, he keeps it with him.
What would you call his feeling for the words
That keep him rich and orphaned and beloved?

William Meredith, “The Illiterate” from Effort at Speech: New and Selected Poems. Copyright © 1997 by William Meredith. Reprinted with the permission of the author and TriQuarterly Books/Northwestern University Press, http://nupress.northwestern.edu.

Source: Effort at Speech: New and Selected Poems (TriQuarterly Books, 1997)

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Poet William Meredith 1919–2007

Subjects Marriage & Companionship, Reading & Books, Love, Living, Relationships, Arts & Sciences, Unrequited Love, Heartache & Loss

Occasions Anniversary, Engagement, Weddings

Holidays Valentine's Day

Poetic Terms Sonnet

 William  Meredith

Biography

Acclaimed poet William Meredith wrote formal, disciplined poetry of cool observation, intelligence, and wit. A Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress, and later the Poet Laureate Consulate in Poetry to the Library of Congress, Meredith was also a Director and Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets. His many honors also included the Pulitzer Prize, the Los Angeles Times Book Award, the National Book Award and the . . .

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SUBJECT Marriage & Companionship, Reading & Books, Love, Living, Relationships, Arts & Sciences, Unrequited Love, Heartache & Loss

Poetic Terms Sonnet

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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