Alfred A. Knopf, New York., 1970

In making this selection from twenty-five years of work I have represented my early books scantily, as I have come to feel they represented me. Juvenile purposes apart, it takes time to find out our real natures and purposes....The poems I've kept from Love Letter From an Impossible Land and Ships and Other Figures are not the most promising ones, perhaps, but poems that say things that I am still trying to find ways to say, poems that engage mysteries that I still pluck at the hems of, poems that are devious in ways I still like better than plainspokenness. Things change from what they are not to what they are, Thoreau says, and one hopes that is so.

    -William Meredith, in his Introduction

Earth Walk is a rich and moving book- all the more so because its author is almost too modest for this world. Not really modest, of course, for in a fact that wouldn't do; but so set against glaring openness that sometimes he talks out of both corners of his mouth. And even then, he is charming...

    -Letter from Mark Van Doren to William Meredith, April 2, 1970

The book seems to me to have a nobility about it, if I understand the noble in poetry. I have never been able to say as much in a poem as you have in A Major Work's eight lines.

    -Letter from Josephine Jacobson to William Meredith, October 20, 1974


He drives onto the grassy shoulder and unfastens
his seat-belt. The aluminum buckle glistens.
He is watched from behind by two upholstered knobs.
He thinks: strapped to things we drive or fly,
helmeted for cycling and all the jobs
that peril our coconut head, we rush
on our wheeled callings, hoping to avoid the crush,
the whooping car that blinks its bloody eye
-no Roman would be able to make sense
of our latin name for it, an ambulance,
A rubber walker with the spry attendants.

I was to go to the hospital tomorrow, but I thought
Why not today? Now I unstrap the rented Avis car
and, opening the hatch, step boldly out
onto the Planet Earth. My skull is bare,
The animal hide is fitted to my feet.
The autumn air is fresh, a first pepperidge tree
has turned mahogany and red. This is a safe walk.
The turnpike is uninhabited. When I come back
I'll meet a trooper with a soft, wide hat
Who'll take away my Earth-rocks and debrief me.

Other poems from Earth Walk...

To The Wreck of the Thresher... | To Hazard, The Painter...