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November 1963

Medical Verse

Arch Intern Med. 1963;112(5):783-785. doi:10.1001/archinte.1963.03860050170021

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Good poetry written by doctors is a very rare flower indeed, but occasionally it may be found peeping from among the crannies on the rough slopes of medical practice. Two examples of physicians in our time who have written poetry of merit are Dr. Merrill Moore of Boston (1903-1959) who was sometimes called "the Puck of American poetry," and Dr. William Carlos Williams of Rutherford, NJ, (1883-1963) whose achievements made him one of America's best-known and most controversial poets and writers.

Dr. Moore always felt that medical practice was a handicap in the business of writing poetry. "If the average man," he once wrote, "is a harp on whom Nature occasionally plays, the physician is an instrument on whom the emotions are played continuously during his waking hours, and that is not too good for any man." At the same time he regarded the gift as a great boon, adding,

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