On The Death of An Acquaintance

Variations on a Theme


On The Death of An Acquaintance

by Oscar Williams (1899–1964)

I read that Williams was a poet and influential anthologist. His name haunted me at first be because I could not place him yet his name was familiar. No, not Oscar Wilde!

Turns out he was a supporter and something of an influence on Dylan Thomas but the other poet hardly acknowledged Williams. There are various accounts of their tumultuous relationship on the web.

I could not find a copy of this on the net so I have typed it out.

The first stanza to me reads poorly and does not hint at what is to come. The line I especially like is, “Now I see you were capable of decision and despair.”


Williams also manages to use the very difficult word ‘O’. I’ve never had the chance to use it. Well done.

On The Death of An Acquaintance

Friend, when I think of your delicate feminine face,
And every little hopes common as hearing or seeing,
How singlehanded you moved the massive stone of space
To find a cranny for the flower from the soil of your being,

And how long you manage to keep open in the universe
Under all-tme strain that lighted crack in the reckoning
I am haunted by your grimace O steadily getting worse
Awaiting the vast glad look that reduces everything

For long I thought you another human being in doubt,
One of the millions as ordinary as daylight is everywhere –
One of those usual people that one meets all about –
Now I see you were capable of decision and despair

Forgive me if my heart cringes with those who die,
Forgive me, friend, when even in thought I cannot be brave
Who think of your clear face agonized under tons of sky
Hourly growing more haggard from the weight of the grave.

By thomasfarley01

Business writer and graphic arts gadfly.

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