Merwin on Monday

I love the way Merwin can write in a way that seems simple and straightforward, but takes you somewhere else. There’s something magical about his work. Here’s one example:

Looking for Mushrooms at Sunrise

When it is not yet day
I am walking on centuries of dead chestnut leaves
In a place without grief
Though the oriole
Out of another life warns me
That I am awake
In the dark while the rain fell
The gold chanterelles pushed through a sleep that was not mine
Waking me
So that I came up the mountain to find them
Where they appear it seems I have been before
I recognize their haunts as though remembering
Another life
Where else am I walking even now
Looking for me

W.S. Merwin

Two deaths

Two amazing poets died this week, W. S. Merwin and Linda Gregg. I have posted several of Merwin’s poems before. Somehow though, I never have posted a poem by Linda Gregg. Here’s a sample:

Death Looks Down

Death looks down on the salmon
A male and female in two pools
one above the other
The female turns back along the path of water to the male 
does not touch him and returns to the place she had been 
I know what Death will do
Their bodies already sour and ragged
Blood has risen to the surface under the scales
One side of his jaw is unhinged 
Death will pick them up 
Put them away under his coat against his skin 
and belt them there
He will walk away up to the path through the bay trees
Through the dry grass of California to where the mountain begins
Where a few deer almost the color of the hills will look up until he is under the trees again 
Where the road ends and there is a gate
He will climb over that with his treasure 
It will be dark by then
But for now, he does nothing 
He does not disturb the silence at all
Nor the occasional sound of leaves
of ferns touching 
of grass or stream
For now he looks down at the salmon 
Large and whole 
Motionless days and nights in the cold water Lying still 
Always facing the constant motion

Linda Gregg

Continue reading “Two deaths”

Merwin on Monday

The NY Times Magazine has started printing a poem each week. In case you missed this one, it’s the best of the series so far:

After the VoicesWSMerwin_NewBioImage

Youth is gone from the place where I was young
even the language that I heard here once
its cadences that went on echoing
a youth forgotten and the great singing
of the beginning have fallen silent
with the voices that were the spirit of them
and their absences were no more noticed
than were those of the unreturning birds
each spring until there were no words at all
for what was gone but it was always so
I have no way of telling what I miss
I am only the one who misses it

W. S. Merwin

Unfortunately, I’ve heard that Merwin now suffers from dementia, so truly there are no words at all.