“Youth” by W.S. Merwin

Through all of youth I was looking for you
without knowing what I was looking for

or what to call you I think I did not
even know I was looking how would I

have known you when I saw you as I did
time after time when you appeared to me

as you did naked offering yourself
entirely at that moment and you let

me breathe you touch you taste you knowing
no more than I did and only when I

began to think of losing you did I
recognize you when you were already

part memory part distance remaining
mine in the ways that I learn to miss you

from what we cannot hold the stars are made

 

— W.S. Merwin, from his Pulitzer Prize-winning book The Shadow of Sirius (2009), and found in the newly released collection The Essential W.S. Merwin (2017, Copper Canyon Press).

Copyright © 2017 by W. S. Merwin.

~~~

Text as shared at The Merwin Conservancy. “To support the preservation of W.S. Merwin’s legacy and our efforts to preserve his living legacy for future generations, please consider making a tax-deductible donation to The Merwin Conservancy.”

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“Living With the News” by W.S. Merwin

Can I get used to it day after day
a little at a time while the tide keeps
coming in faster the waves get bigger
building on each other breaking records
this is not the world that I remember
then comes the day when I open the box
that I remember packing with such care
and there is the face that I had known well
in little pieces staring up at me
it is not mentioned on the front pages
but somewhere far back near the real estate
among the things that happen every day
to someone who now happens to be me
and what can I do and who can tell me
then there is what the doctor comes to say
endless patience will never be enough
the only hope is to be the daylight

~ W. S. Merwin  (September 30, 1927 – March 15, 2019). As published in the July 28, 2014 issue of The New Yorker

RIP Mr. Merwin. “Your absence has gone through me / Like thread through a needle. / Everything I do is stitched with its color.” . . . “We are saying thank you and waving / dark though it is.”

(“Separation” and “Thanks” both by W. S. Merwin)

Read more remembrances at The Merwin Conservancy.

“Burning the Old Year” by Naomi Shihab Nye

Letters swallow themselves in seconds.
Notes friends tied to the doorknob,
transparent scarlet paper,
sizzle like moth wings,
marry the air.

So much of any year is flammable,
lists of vegetables, partial poems.
Orange swirling flame of days,
so little is a stone.

Where there was something and suddenly isn’t,
an absence shouts, celebrates, leaves a space.
I begin again with the smallest numbers.

Quick dance, shuffle of losses and leaves,
only the things I didn’t do
crackle after the blazing dies.

Naomi Shihab Nye, “Burning the Old Year” from Words Under the Words: Selected Poems (Portland, Oregon: Far Corner Books, 1995). Copyright © 1995 by Naomi Shihab Nye


“I begin again with the smallest numbers…” 

Happy New Year everyone. May your crackles be few, and your losses fewer.

We sadly lost an unborn calf today, and yet, just on Christmas Eve, another cow miraculously welcomed happy and healthy twins. Such is the cycle of life . . . and of death. I am slowly learning to accept both.

Thank you for being here with me. Love, Christy

with the animals dying around us
our lost feelings we are saying thank you
with the forests falling faster than the minutes
of our lives we are saying thank you

with nobody listening we are saying thank you
we are saying thank you and waving
dark though it is

~ “Thanks” by W.S. Merwin

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“Place” by W. S. Merwin

On the last day of the world
I would want to plant a tree

what for
not the fruit

the tree that bears the fruit
is not the one that was planted

I want the tree that stands
in the earth for the first time

with the sun already
going down

and the water
touching its roots

in the earth full of the dead
and the clouds passing

one by one
over its leaves

–W. S. Merwin, from his book, The Rain in the Trees

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“Thanks” by W.S. Merwin

Listen
with the night falling we are saying thank you
we are stopping on the bridges to bow from the railings
we are running out of the glass rooms
with our mouths full of food to look at the sky
and say thank you
we are standing by the water thanking it
smiling by the windows looking out
in our directions

back from a series of hospitals back from a mugging
after funerals we are saying thank you
after the news of the dead
whether or not we knew them we are saying thank you

over telephones we are saying thank you
in doorways and in the backs of cars and in elevators
remembering wars and the police at the door
and the beatings on stairs we are saying thank you
in the banks we are saying thank you
in the faces of the officials and the rich
and of all who will never change
we go on saying thank you thank you

with the animals dying around us
our lost feelings we are saying thank you
with the forests falling faster than the minutes
of our lives we are saying thank you
with the words going out like cells of a brain
with the cities growing over us
we are saying thank you faster and faster
with nobody listening we are saying thank you
we are saying thank you and waving
dark though it is

“Thanks” by W.S. Merwin, from Migration: New & Selected Poems, Copper Canyon Press.

* Thank you to everyone who has helped those affected by Hurricane Harvey. If you would like to help, I shared several links at the bottom of our last post, “Hurricane” by Mary Oliver.