William Carlos Williams is best remembered for his spare and evocative poems: “So much depends / upon // a red wheel / barrow,” and “I have eaten / the plums / that were in / the icebox.” But in between nights spent writing poetry, he devoted most of his time to working with children as the chief of pediatrics at a New Jersey hospital. With this poem, dedicated to his grandson, he blended the two strands of his working life in a page of children’s verse.
Published in 1956, “The Turtle” was the only poem that Williams contributed to The Atlantic before dying seven years later. Five more characteristic pieces of his work were printed posthumously. — Annika Neklason