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Miller Williams


Have compassion for everyone you meet,
even if they don't want it. What seems conceit, 

bad manners, or cynicism is always a sign 

of things no ears have heard, no eyes have seen.
You do not know what wars are going on
down there where the spirit meets the bone.


From The Ways We Touch: Poems. Copyright 1997 by Miller Williams. 
Used with permission of the University of Illinois Press.



Stanley Miller Williams (1930 - 2015) was born in Hoxie, Arkansas, the son of an itinerant Methodist minister. He attended college planning to study English and foreign languages, but switched to biology after a school psychologist told him he showed no verbal aptitude and, ultimately, earned a graduate degree in zoology. Father of singer/songwriter Lucinda Williams, Miller published a total of 37 books of poetry and prose, was founding director of the University of Arkansas Press, and served as a mentor to many aspiring writers, including Billy Collins. Miller's own mentor was his good friend, Flannery O?Conner.

Post New Comment:
Posted 01/14/2021 01:22 PM
Beautiful, perfectly put - and the last line stops the heart. Loved it ~
Posted 08/03/2015 11:24 AM
Wilda Morris:
Excellent advice; excellent poem.
Posted 08/03/2015 10:40 AM
Where the spirit meets the bone - great line!
Posted 08/03/2015 09:48 AM
What a final line!
Posted 08/03/2015 12:40 AM
Joe Sottile:
In other words, be kind. You never know what baggage others are carrying.
Posted 08/02/2015 11:24 PM
I love Miller Williams and this poem is great. I used it in my workshop a couple of weeks ago.
Posted 08/02/2015 01:28 PM
"where the spirit meets the bone" is a wonderful image.
Posted 08/02/2015 11:03 AM
Always good to remember. Wonderful advice from a beautiful poem!
Posted 08/02/2015 09:05 AM
Glen Sorestad:
A favourite poem of mine from Miller Williams. Thanks for sharing this.
Posted 08/02/2015 08:32 AM
good advice
Posted 08/02/2015 08:22 AM
So true, and beautifully said.
Posted 08/02/2015 05:40 AM
There may be a whole community of tendons, holding our universes together. It takes great strength to hold the balance.
Posted 08/02/2015 04:09 AM
Lucinda set it to music at the start of her latest album, Down Where The Spirit Meets The Bone:
Posted 08/02/2015 03:02 AM
Most interesting poem. Good find.
Posted 08/02/2015 02:14 AM

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