Near Antietam

By Norman Williams Norman Williams
Shunning the British tourist bus, we walk,
My child and I, the West Woods where, like dogs
Who know their death is due, the wounded took
Themselves to give up hope. The horror begs
Imagining—the soldiers hauling limbs
Hacked off or messmates dead, and everywhere,
Mixed with the summer scent of swelling plums,
A stench of putrid flesh and burning hair.
Here Lee was turned. That night the forest filled
With muttered names of loved ones left, and cries
From mangled soldiers pleading to be killed.
Seeing my distant look, my daughter tries
My sleeve: “What is it, what?” she asks, and I
Say “nothing, nothing”—though “nothing” is a lie.

“Near Antietam” from One Unblinking Eye by Norman Williams. Published in 2003 by Swallow Press/Ohio University Press, Athens Ohio (

Source: One Blinking Eye (Ohio University Press, 2003)

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Poet Norman Williams

POET’S REGION U.S., New England

Subjects War & Conflict, Social Commentaries

Poetic Terms Sonnet


An attorney in Burlington, Vermont, Norman Williams earned a BA from the University of Colorado in 1974 and a JD from Yale University in 1979. He is the author of the poetry collections The Unlovely Child: Poems (1985) and One Unblinking Eye (2003). He has received an Ingram Merrill Fellowship, an Amy Lowell Fellowship, and an award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. The Unlovely Child won the I.B. Lavan Award. Poet . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT War & Conflict, Social Commentaries

POET’S REGION U.S., New England

Poetic Terms Sonnet

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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