The Illiterate by William Meredith

I approached this assignment with an open mind – or more bluntly stated, I had absolutely no idea what I was looking for. As I flipped through The Open Door, the first poem that grabbed my attention was “The Illiterate” by WIlliam Meredith due to its title. I chose this poem for two main reasons: 1) we largely take literacy for granted and fail to recognize how much power it gives us, and 2) awkward uncertainty in a novel situation is something we can all relate to.

During my presentation, I wanted to stress the rhyming/repeated words at the end of each line as well as to address the audience directly. While I felt confident in my overall delivery, I should have placed greater emphasis on the rhyme scheme and homonyms present throughout the poem. I also could have better memorized the piece, as I stumbled slightly during one line and glanced at the text more often than I would have liked. Reciting “The Illiterate” aloud definitely highlighted subtleties in tone and meaning that I probably would not have noticed otherwise, and despite the mistakes above, I hope that this poem made you all think of a time when you were faced with a similar problem! 🙂


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