Posts Tagged ‘W. S. Merwin’

There is no more selfish act, no more powerful gift I give to myself, then when I find a quiet corner to read a book of poetry.  Through the author’s words — and the images evoked by those words — my experiences of this life are deepened.  I especially felt that way today as I found a moment to read W. S. Merwin’s The Shadow of Sirius.  You see, for days now, each morning as night gives way to morning, I have lain awake in bed listening to birdsong.  I have struggled with how to capture the experience on paper.  And then I read Merwin’s poem The Laughing Thrush, and I thought, “Well, one day the words may come about my bird and his song.  But for now let me enjoy another’s.”


The Laughing Thrush

by W. S. Merwin


O nameless joy of the morning

tumbling upward note by note out of the night

and the hush of the dark valley

and out of whatever has not been there

song unquestioning and unbounded

yes this is the place and the one time

in the whole of before and after

with all of memory waking into it

and the lost visages that hover

around the edge of sleep

constant and clear

and the words that lately have fallen silent

to surface along the phrases of some future

if there is a future

here is where they all sing the first daylight

whether or not there is anyone listening


* from The Shadow of Sirius


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I received an e-update today from poets.org that included news about W. S. Merwin, one of my favorite poets. He is succeeding Kay Ryan as the 2010-2011 U.S. Poet Laureate.  His is a poetry that makes one pause.  Maybe all poetry does that. 😉  In any case, in the bookstore where I work, in the quiet moments, I pull Merwin’s Shadow of Sirius from the shelf.  I recently discovered that he’d written a famous poem about mushrooms. As someone who has habitually avoided mushrooms I am amazed at how often mushrooms are appearing in my life this summer!

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

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