I wonder how many people have walked past William Carlos Williams‘ grave without knowing he was one of America’s greatest poets. Since it was a pretty hot morning, I was first attracted to the shade of the giant oak tree which guards his remains only to discover I was standing next to his stone.
Williams is one of my favorite poets. I love his imagist work. I read aloud The Red Wheelbarrow from memory. (Don’t be impressed. It’s only 16 words.) And was nearly able to pull This Is Just To Say from my head but instead pulled out my phone to make sure I got it exactly right.
Another reason I feel an affinity to Williams is because he had a day job too. He was the Chief of Pediatrics at Passaic General Hospital for nearly forty years. And it’s no coincidence that he’s buried just half an hour’s drive from Ginsberg’s grave. Williams mentored Ginsberg and wrote the introduction to Howl and Other Poems.
Hillside Cemetery has a lovely view of the Manhattan skyline. I imagine it’s quite spectacular at night but couldn’t stay. There are more poetic graves yet to be visited.