The distinguished former resident of the Indiana Humanities Council headquarters, Meredith Nicholson, was briefly and ceremoniously resurrected on May 4, by Yours Truly, one of five local reenactors of Hoosier poets taking part in a program of the Dead Poets Society of America, under the auspices of the Indiana Humanities Council and Brick Street Poetry Inc.
Nicholson (1866-1947) was joined by his fellow permanent residents of Crown Hill Cemetery: Sarah T. Bolton (Shari Wagner), Etheridge Knight (Khabir Shareef), James Whitcomb Riley (Henry Ryder) and Ruth Lilly (Joyce Brinkman). The event filled Crown Hill’s august-yet-cozy Gothic Chapel and featured refreshments from each poet’s era and photo ops at the gravesites. Maine poet Walter Skold, founder of the Dead Poets Society, was on hand with the Poemobile, the van in which he’s criss-crossing the nation promoting the organization and its national contest.
While Nicholson (“House of a Thousand Candles,” etc., etc.) is best known as a best-selling novelist, he left a considerable oeuvre of poetry, from which I read several specimens. I’m not sure he would have acknowledged being humbled by the scintillating performances of his four fellow ghosts, but I did so on both our behalfs.
A favorite of mine:
TO A DEBUTANTE
Your dreams have never known a world so fair
As this reality of joy and light;
The springs that o’er your head have winged
Steal back again with all their fragrance rare
Of May-time blossoms. On the happy air,
Viol and harp and horn their burden bright
Add to the charm of this enchantment night,
That finds you queen, with none your reign to
But through the music’s careless march and
Beyond these dancers’ forms that drift and sway,
I hear for you a graver measure ring
Where, far along on your appointed way,
A girl’s heart to a woman’s task you bring,
Serene and pure, amid the troubled day.
Written by Dan Carpenter, an Indianapolis native and a columnist for The Indianapolis Star.