An unpublished poem by Pulitzer Prize-winning author William Carlos Williams is to be donated Monday to a U.S. university that plans to publish it.
Williams, who along with his literary career had a medical practice, wrote "About a Little Girl" in 1921 after diagnosing an 11-year-old girl with leukemia.
Williams was a friend of the girl's family, and thought after reviewing medical tests that she was likely to die. The poem contrasts a happy, outgoing "angel" of a child with the death he believed would overtake her.
As it turned out, Williams' diagnosis was wrong and the child, Marian Macy, lived until 2002 two weeks short of 92. The poem, which Williams signed with his initials, WCW, was passed from Marian's mother to Marian, then to her two sons, Michael and Carl Lund.
The poem, now slightly yellowed, hung in a frame on the family's wall for decades.
After their mother's death, the two Lund brothers wanted to make it available to the world, but in a safe place.
On Monday they will donate the 38-line, typewritten poem to Southeast Missouri State University and explain its origins.
"I didn't want to just hand it to someone," Michael Lund said.
The poem, which has a misspelling in the word "balloon," will be published for the first time by the university. Its contents are not being released until then.
Robert Hamblin, director of Southeast Missouri's Center for Faulkner Studies, said he doesn't know why Williams didn't publish the poem.
"To find it at this late date is wonderful," he said.
Williams, who lived from 1883 to 1963, wrote short stories, plays, novels, essays as well as poems at night and on weekends. He was part of the early modernist movement in the U.S.
His epic series of poems, "Paterson," is an account of the history, people and personality of Paterson, New Jersey. His most anthologized poem is "The Red Wheelbarrow."
Michael Lund, who became an English professor and author, never made much of his family's poem while growing up in the 1950s. But when he became an English student at Washington University in St. Louis, "I picked up the importance of it."
Hamblin said he is honored that Southeast Missouri State University was chosen to be the repository for such a cherished artifact, reports AP.
"It's a wonderful poem, and a great tribute to us," he said.
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