Monday, February 07, 2005

Poem of the Week 2/7/2005: The Illiterate

The Illiterate

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 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

Hello - it's Monday and PotW time again! This poem is so tender and soft and humble and amazed that it somehow felt perfect for this week and this day, especially. I have just been feeling really open and relaxed for the last six days or so, so yeah. There you go. There is a lot of empathy in this poem, I think - interesting how it creates empathy for both the main character and the narrator when it is about goodness (a good bit of which, in my mind, is empathy). It's also interesting that empathy occurs with somebody ashamed and afraid and proud; it brings into question what makes us empathize with people, and what in ourselves we find to be so...resonant isn't the word. Maybe tender but I already used that. If you think of a better one, let me know. So that's all for this week!

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