Poet W.S. Merwin died yesterday, March 15, 2019, at his home in Hawaii. Poet, translator, environmentalist, memoirist, conservator of land, language, human imagination. Soul. A poem from his book The Shadow of Sirius (2009, Copper Canyon Press):
When I think of the patience I have had
back in the dark before I remember
or knew it was night until the light came
all at once at the speed it was born to
with all the time in the world to fly through
not concerned about ever arriving
and then the gathering of the first stars
unhurried in their flowering spaces
and far into the story the planets
cooling slowly and the ages of rain
then the seas starting to bear memory
the gaze of the first cell at its waking
how did this haste begin this little time
at any time this reading by lightning
scarcely a word this nothing this heaven
“. . . That the poems we snatch from the language must bear the habit of our thinking.
That their arrangement strengthens the authority on which each separate line is laid.
That they extend the line into perpetuity.
That they enlarge the circle.
That they awaken the dreamer. That they awaken the schemer.
That they rectify the names.
That they draw not conclusions but further qualify doubt. . . . .”
(p. 39; fr. The Poet, the Lion, Talking Pictures, El Farolito, a Wedding in St. Roch, the Big Box Store, the Warp in the Mirror, Spring, Midnights, Fire & All; pub. 2016, Copper Canyon Press)