William Meredith "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 than 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 wanted him for beloved.
Afraid and letter-proud, he keeps it with him.
What would you call his feeling for the words
That keep him right and orphaned and beloved?
In this poem, I particularly like it because it shows that the person understands that he cannot read, and is humiliated by this. The individual has never received a letter, and because he cannot read, he does not know who it is from or what the letter entails. The individual does not want to ask anyone what the letter states because he is humiliated by the fact that he is not literate, but still keeps the letter. The man thinks that it could be from his uncle that is giving him land, from family stating that his parents died, or from his love that is wanted to have him come back. Still, with all these possibilities, the individual does not want someone else to read it for him. This could be because he is learning to read on his own. Even up until this point however, the letter could be time sensitive. I chose this poem because it brought a lot of different questions to mind and showed many different aspects of the individual.