Not surprisingly, given William Bronk’s esoteric investigations into big cosmic questions, the facts of his own biography seldom affected his verse. He was born the youngest of four children and lived most of his life in upstate New York. A remarkably astute student who began writing poetry in high school, he was accepted for study at Dartmouth when he was only sixteen. There he studied most memorably under Robert Frost, whose meditations on the widest implications of human existence in a universe far emptier than any conceived by the imagination impressed the young Bronk. After a single semester at Harvard, Bronk left to complete a most unconventional study on nineteenth century American writers, including Thoreau and Melville, that he would not publish until nearly three decades later.
After serving in World War II, Bronk briefly tried teaching at Union College in Schenectady but found the academic environment stifling to his creativity; teaching, which he loved, required too much energy and any long-term career in academics would ultimately require that Bronk return to school for postgraduate work. In 1946, Bronk abandoned academia entirely and returned to Washington County, to Hudson Falls. Within a year, he agreed to take over executive operations for the family business, the William M. Bronk Coal and Lumber Company, which had been run by his uncle after the unexpected death of Bronk’s father five years earlier. Initially, Bronk assumed the...
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