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Remembering William Meredith

July 16, 2007

His good cheer, generous heart and gentle criticism were legendary. William Meredith inspired a generation of Connecticut College students and drew a wide circle of friends who admired his Romantic sensibilities, his ability to cut through nonsense and his uncompromising search for truth.

Meredith, a Pulitzer Prize-winning poet and the Henry B. Plant Professor Emeritus of English, died May 30. He joined the College in 1955 and retired in 1983 after suffering a debilitating stroke.

Meredith’s students helped him regain his ability to speak by reading him his poems. One of them was Michael Collier ’76, who delivered the eulogy at Meredith’s June 6 funeral.

“No one could have faked the generosity and openness residing in his face, the surprise and delight in his smile, especially in his later years when the day-to-day business of living became more difficult,” said Collier, a professor of English at the University of Maryland.

Read the full text of Collier’s eulogy.

Visit the College's Meredith Web site.


Several alumni e-mailed memories or essays about Meredith.
View them in full by following these links:

Sally Langer ’81 How my 3-year-old daughter and the esteemed Mr. Meredith came to exchange poetry on a warm summer afternoon – over fried clams at Fred’s Shanty.

Meg Sahrbeck Sempreora ’69 He taught me how to recognize what wasn’t working in my poems – and repair them. I learned that an exchange between teacher and student can be deeply compassionate and profoundly useful as well; that lesson has been a rich gift in my own teaching.

Ann Frankel Robinson ’59 He treated us like equals, inviting us to spaghetti suppers in his home. Who would have dreamed that we would be guests in a poet’s home and that he, or his companion, would cook for us? We lived for those evenings. He was showing us there was a world outside of the campus, a world we would soon be entering, a delectable, slightly seductive world where men and women actually talked to each other as equals.

Annie M. Scott ’84 I walked into his office and handed him my meager portfolio, hoping to gain entry to a creative writing class that wasn’t usually open to sophomores. “You like to play with words, don’t you?” My eyes were wide in awe. I nodded in affirmation. “You’re in,” he said.

The Rev. Nina George Hacker ’76 I wanted to be a writer or poet. He supported my writing at a time that my parents disapproved of my plans.

Janet Matthews ’66 Whenever Mr. Meredith was scheduled to do a poetry reading, posters with his photograph would appear all over campus – and almost immediately disappear. Seems that an awful lot of us had crushes on him…

Pat McMurray ’67 My poetry was pretty bad – I’m glad I took his advice about going to grad school.


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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