In Memoriam William F. Herrick

cardinal in the snow

I had this book of poetry that I’d bought used somewhere. Two years ago I posted a lovely poem from it on my blog. Sometime later the poet, William Herrick, found my blog post and left me a comment and I was excited that he’d seen it. His friend later wrote to tell me that he’s 90 and still living in Vermont and working and to tell me the name of his most recent book, Ink.

Today she wrote to tell me that he recently died and that he was thrilled at my interest in his work. And I am sad. Sad that I never took the time to write him back or to post more of his poems. And so I’ve said a prayer for him and have spent my evening digging into his book again.

Eternal rest grant unto him, O Lord, and perpetual light shine upon him.

Here’s another of William F. Herrick’s poems, from his 1977 book, Carving Myself: Poems from a Vermont Woodcarver.

December 1973

It is gone now:
The wren’s house is cold.
Hark! How the owl comes like God
To the wounded mouse
Huddling under icing
In a moss-cake,
His fingers soft–
Soft against the falling day.

O remember how we danced
All summer in the deer’s eye?
Leapt bright brooks
With the children?
Such songs we sang
Outside the dark confessional!

Reborn in pine and walnut
By the slick chisel
Under the incredible tree,
We took the spring flood
As no sign at all.

Our green beds are umber now.
The mountain is deep.
Trout barely move.
Mill Brook protests
In the perfect white
And the velvet redbird’s cry
This morning was a sliver
In the pale dawn air.

he year has gone under the plow,
In the highest grass
Small things and we
Hold April in our palms.

and one more that seems apropos

The Sleigh Bells

The twin set of bells
Hang in brass and leather
Above the old desk
Where we stand together
In our small shop.

We made a game of them
So that whoever rang them
Would be kissed.

This morning
I stand here
Under these bells
Knowing
Not for the first time
That one day
They’ll be moved
To song
And, sadly,
One of us, or both,
Will not respond,
Having gone.

9 Responses to In Memoriam William F. Herrick

  1. Amy Johnson March 17, 2016 at 4:18 pm #

    A beautiful tribute to a beautiful man.

    • Susan Herrick Iuliucci April 10, 2016 at 12:11 pm #

      William F. Herrick was my Dad. Thank you for remembering him. He was the best Dad a girl could every have. We used to go for long walks in the rain and make up poetry. I learned so much from him. I miss him so much. <3

      • susan stacey May 16, 2016 at 10:18 pm #

        Dear Susan, I am very sorry for your loss and saddened to hear of your Dad’s passing. He and Phyllis came to the dental office I worked at in Rutland. I so enjoyed his visits and thru those times he told me some of his life stories. Incredible man. My most memorable visit tho was when I told him how my then 5 year old son caught his first fish and we cooked them up for supper that night. His eyes teared up to that story. Such a humble, true soul. Just wanted to share that. Again, I am very sorry.

        Sue Stacey

      • Laura Mae Baddaker Kee May 21, 2016 at 3:36 pm #

        Happy to see your tribute to Bill and that you found this site. I am the friend who originally alerted him to this “blog” and forwarded it to him so he could respond. We were lifelong friends from Wayland days in the 1940’s and also students at Ottawa at the same time, where he met and married your Mother. He was my MENTOR and I miss him, too. Your Mother has my email address. I would like to put in here the P.O.Box address in VT so readers might be able to order “INK”, his last collection of poetry which also contains a CD narrated by him. Susan, perhaps you would like to take that “on”.

      • Jim Leaman September 19, 2017 at 2:07 pm #

        Almost every day I look at Bill work in my home and I’m reminded of the wonderful discussions I had with Bill and Phyllis. I read is poetry often and warms my heart to know he lives with his words.

      • Ruth Buchtel September 21, 2017 at 10:42 pm #

        Susan, I just found this site. I met your father at his work sculpting wood at Pierre’s Gate. Phyllis was my college roommate at Whitworth College (now University) in Spokane. We lived in Oregon, and now in Washington state (about 50 miles where Phyllis grew up), but had traveled to the Northeast in 1977, and intentionally visited Phyllis and Bill. He gave each of our young daughters wooden ducks for them to take home. They both now have families of their own.
        It was a great pleasure to meet Bill, and to hear some stories. We have purchased each of his books of poetry, and just this evening, I was reading through them again. He was so gifted. Phyllis had told me years ago that he was one of the most talented persons she had ever met. I believe it. I can know how much you miss him.
        Phyllis let me know of his death soon after he passed.
        What a heritage you have as his daughter. May Blessings surround you as you live without him on earth.

  2. Antonia Guccione April 28, 2016 at 10:33 am #

    Thanks for this. In cleaning through stuff today, I came across a few of my favorite poems from his book….I wondered what had become of him, found your link, and am saddened to read of his death; regretful too, that I waited so long to try to find him again.

  3. Marilyn Johnson July 26, 2016 at 9:52 am #

    My husband, Ron, and I are sad to hear of Bill’s passing. When Bill was at The Jelly Mill, he inspired my husband to start sculpting in marble. We still have a table Bill made for us, which features a carving that originally was a fireplace mantel. When the first owners divorced, Bill took the mantelpiece and fashioned our table featuring his wonderful carving.

  4. Dik & Kate Coss October 27, 2016 at 4:01 pm #

    We are so sorry to hear of Bill’s passing. We always enjoyed Bill’s company and his outlook on life. The many stories he shared and the gentle man he was. Our best to Phyllis; she is in our thoughts..

    Dick & Kate Coss

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