William Alexander Percy

(1885-1942 / United States)

William Alexander Percy
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William Alexander Percy (May 14, 1885 – January 21, 1942), was a lawyer, planter, and poet from Greenville, Mississippi. His autobiography Lanterns on the Levee (Knopf 1941) became a bestseller. His father LeRoy Percy was the last United States Senator from Mississippi elected by the legislature. And in that largely Protestant state, William championed the Roman Catholicism of his French mother.

Percy attended the Episcopal University of the South in Sewanee, Tennessee, a postbellum tradition in his family, spent a year in Paris and then earned a law degree from Harvard and practiced law in his father's firm in Greenville. Percy joined the Commission for Relief in Belgium in ... more »

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Best Poem of William Alexander Percy


I heard a bird at break of day
   Sing from the autumn trees
A song so mystical and calm,
   So full of certainties,
No man, I think, could listen long
   Except upon his knees.
Yet this was but a simple bird,
   Alone, among dead trees.

Read the full of Overtones

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