Wordsworth wrote an endless poem in blank verse on” the growth of a poet’s mind.”  I shall attempt a more modest feat for a more distracted age: a blog, “Things which a Lifetime of Trying to Be a Poet has Taught Me.”

Memento Mori
Memento Mori

The ancients often kept a memento mori (“reminder of death”) on their desks in the form of a human skull.  Donne had his portrait painted in his funeral shroud.  It may seem macabre to us, but it was no more unhealthy than our modern forms of denial, and maybe less.  The message was, of course, “Get thee to my lady’s chamber.  Tell her, let her paint an inch thick, to this favor shall she come.”  Hamlet—and Yorick—were right of course.  But even if we do not have our own Yorick sitting on our desk, Nature will provide us with her own reminders.

Donne in his Shroud
Donne in his Shroud

Jogging, Sunrise, Milford Church Road and Austell Road,

March 28, 1984


Dog, Possum;  near, far:

What swift destiny or star

Left the two of you where you are?

Dog, possum;  kin, strange:

Night, road, car—change.

Soon bereft of all your range.


Collie:  silky, golden tress,

Hand invited to caress,

Vision still of loveliness;

Face full of loyal trust.

Possum:  tattered, ratty dress,

Alien eyes, expressionless;

Both now only empty crust.

Seasons come and seasons go.

Though the process will be slow

(Scaling, flake by flake, or rust),

Rain, sun, the status quo:

Both in winds of Fall will blow

Indiscriminately dust.


Possum, dog; strange, kin:

Could such a small break in the skin

Let the creeping chaos in?

Possum, dog;  far, near:

Fate was quirky, Fortune queer

To toss you two together here.

Remember: for more poetry like this, go to and order Stars Through the Clouds! Also look for Inklings of Reality and Reflections from Plato’s Cave, Williams’ newest books from Lantern Hollow Press: Evangelical essays in pursuit of Truth, Goodness, and Beauty.

A book that fights back against the encroaching darkness.
A book that fights back against the encroaching darkness.

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