November 19, 1997
JIM LEHRER: Professor Joseph Ellis won the National Book Award for Non-Fiction last night. Now a winner of a poetry award was William Meredith. Now 78 years old, Meredith's first book of poetry was written while he served in the U.S. Navy during World War II. He has won numerous awards since, including the Pulitzer Prize in 1987. In ‘83, Meredith suffered a stroke, leaving him unable to speak for several years. His new book is appropriately titled "Effort at Speech." We asked poet laureate Robert Pinsky to read a Meredith poem.
ROBERT PINSKY, Poet Laureate: The title of this poem by William Meredith happens to be appropriate for this particular news day. The poem is called "Parents." "Parents" for Vanessa Meredith and Samuel Wolf Gizarez: "
What it must be like to be an angel
The last time we go to bed good,
They dandle us once too often,
Suddenly, one day their juniors
They get wrinkles where it is better
It is grotesque how they go on
The effrontery, barely imaginable,
This goes on for a long time. Everything
they all do it, is to die,
how we came out of the wet sea
taking the last link
Father, Mother, we cry, wrinkling,