Friday, February 29, 2008

New Poems from W. S. Merwin

W. S. Merwin

reading from his latest book,
The Carrier of Ladders,
to Tulane students

New Orleans, 1971

photo by Jack


A Single Autumn

by W. S. Merwin March 3, 2008

The year my parents died

one that summer one that fall

three months and three days apart

I moved into the house

where they had lived their last years

it had never been theirs

and was still theirs in that way

for a while

echoes in every room

without a sound

all the things that we

had never been able to say

I could not remember

doll collection

in a china cabinet

plates stacked on shelves

lace on drop-leaf tables

a dried branch of bittersweet

before a hall mirror

were all planning to wait

the glass doors of the house

remained closed

the days had turned cold

and out in the tall hickories

the blaze of autumn had begun

on its own

I could do anything


Near Field

by W. S. Merwin March 3, 2008

This is not something new or kept secret

the tilled ground unsown in late spring

the dead are not separate from the living

each has one foot in the unknown

and cannot speak for the other

the field tells none of its turned story

it lies under its low cloud like a waiting river

the dead made this out of their hunger

out of what they had been told

out of the pains and shadows

and bowels of animals

out of turning and

coming back singing

about another time

Rain Light

by W. S. Merwin March 3, 2008

All day the stars watch from long ago

my mother said I am going now

when you are alone you will be all right

whether or not you know you will know

look at the old house in the dawn rain

all the flowers are forms of water

the sun reminds them through a white cloud

touches the patchwork spread on the hill

the washed colors of the afterlife

that lived there long before you were born

see how they wake without a question

even though the whole world is burning

The Atlantic on Merwin (click)

W. S. Merwin from Wikipedia (click)

Allen Ginsberg, W.S. Merwin, and myself

one of many N'awlins meals together

Tulane U. 1971

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