Elegy for a Poet of JFK, MLK and Bygone Times
On Thanksgiving Day, I suddenly realized it was also November 22, the anniversary of JFK’s assassination.
Missing from the family table and in the hospital was Harvey Shapiro, whose son is married to my daughter-in-law’s sister, a man of my own age who also fought in World War II and spent his working life as a teacher and editor, most notably for prompting Martin Luther King to write his “Letter from Birmingham Jail.”
Now Harvey Shapiro is being laid to rest amid eulogies that also recognize him as one of the finest poets of his generation.
Half a century ago as elegists around the world were pouring out their shock and grief over Kennedy’s killing, he wrote one of the finest poems of all, “The National Cold Storage Company.”
Today it summons up deep feeling about what my generation felt then and what we miss now as our human losses mount: