Friday, October 31, 2008


W. S. Merwin
New Orleans

Photo by Jack



by W. S. Merwin November 3, 2008

Climbing in the mist I came to a terrace wall

and saw above it a small field of broad beans in flower

their white fragrance was flowing through the first light

of morning there a little way up the mountain

where I had made my way through the olive groves

and under the blossoming boughs of the almonds

above the old hut of the charcoal burner

where suddenly the scent of the bean flowers found me

and as I took the next step I heard

the creak of the harness and the mule’s shod hooves

striking stones in the furrow and then the low voice

of the man talking softly praising the mule

as he walked behind through the cloud in his white shirt

along the row and between his own words

he was singing under his breath a few phrases

at a time of the same song singing it

to his mule it seemed as I listened

watching their breaths and not understanding a word

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