Alfred A. Knopf, New York, 1958
Meredith is an expert writer and knows how to make his meters and sentences accomplish hard labors. His intelligent poems, unlike most poems, have a character behind them...
I think you write "I" poems, where the shifts, pauses, shivers etc. of the struggling voice are all important. You usually need a little space to get going, and perhaps some solid object bridge, battleship or person to keep you from drifting off into the gray. I guess your subject is about meetings: the ship, the bridge, ther persons steely, their myriad wires trembling with communication and rebuff, then giving one's self away with decency.
-Letter from Robert Lowell to William Meredith, December 2, 1955
We say the sea is lonely; better say
Oh, there are people, all right, settled in the sea-
A man who asks there of his family
They are speechless. And the famous noise of the sea,
Although not yet a man given to prayer, I pray
Reprinted from Effort at Speech: New and Selected Poems by William Meredith, published by TriQuarterly Books/Northwestern University Press in 1997. Copyright © 1997 by William Meredith. All rights reserved; used by permission of Northwestern University Press and the author.