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Best Famous W S Merwin Poems

Here is a collection of the all-time best famous W S Merwin poems. This is a select list of the best famous W S Merwin poetry. Reading, writing, and enjoying famous W S Merwin poetry (as well as classical and contemporary poems) is a great past time. These top poems are the best examples of W S Merwin poems.

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Written by W S Merwin |

The Ships Are Made Ready In Silence

 Moored to the same ring:
The hour, the darkness and I,
Our compasses hooded like falcons.
Now the memory of you comes aching in With a wash of broken bits which never left port In which once we planned voyages, They come knocking like hearts asking: What departures on this tide? Breath of land, warm breath, You tighten the cold around the navel, Though all shores but the first have been foreign, And the first was not home until left behind.
Our choice is ours but we have not made it, Containing as it does, our destination Circled with loss as with coral, and A destination only until attained.
I have left you my hope to remember me by, Though now there is little resemblance.
At this moment I could believe in no change, The mast perpetually Vacillating between the same constellations, The night never withdrawing its dark virtue >From the harbor shaped as a heart, The sea pulsing as a heart, The sky vaulted as a heart, Where I know the light will shatter like a cry Above a discovery: "Emptiness.
Emptiness! Look!" Look.
This is the morning.

Written by W S Merwin |

Green Fields

 By this part of the century few are left who believe
 in the animals for they are not there in the carved parts
of them served on plates and the pleas from the slatted trucks
 are sounds of shadows that possess no future
there is still game for the pleasure of killing
 and there are pets for the children but the lives that followed
courses of their own other than ours and older
 have been migrating before us some are already
far on the way and yet Peter with his gaunt cheeks
 and point of white beard the face of an aged Lawrence
Peter who had lived on from another time and country
 and who had seen so many things set out and vanish
still believed in heaven and said he had never once
 doubted it since his childhood on the farm in the days
of the horses he had not doubted it in the worst
 times of the Great War and afterward and he had come
to what he took to be a kind of earthly
 model of it as he wandered south in his sixties
by that time speaking the language well enough
 for them to make him out he took the smallest roads
into a world he thought was a thing of the past
 with wildflowers he scarcely remembered and neighbors
working together scything the morning meadows
 turning the hay before the noon meal bringing it in
by milking time husbandry and abundance
 all the virtues he admired and their reward bounteous
in the eyes of a foreigner and there he remained
 for the rest of his days seeing what he wanted to see
until the winter when he could no longer fork
 the earth in his garden and then he gave away
his house land everything and committed himself
 to a home to die in an old chateau where he lingered
for some time surrounded by those who had lost
 the use of body or mind and as he lay there he told me
that the wall by his bed opened almost every day
 and he saw what was really there and it was eternal life
as he recognized at once when he saw the gardens
 he had made and the green fields where he had been
a child and his mother was standing there then the wall would close
 and around him again were the last days of the world

Written by W S Merwin |

For the Anniversary of My Death

Every year without knowing it I have passed the day
When the last fires will wave to me
And the silence will set out
Tireless traveler
Like the beam of a lightless star
Then I will no longer
Find myself in life as in a strange garment
Surprised at the earth
And the love of one woman
And then shamelessness of men
As today writing after three days of rain
Hearing the wren sing and the falling cease
And bowing not knowing to what

More great poems below...

Written by W S Merwin |

We continue

For Galway Kinnell

The rust a little pile of western color lies
At the end of its travels 
Our instrument no longer.
Those who believe In death have their worship cut out for them.
As for myself we Continue An old Scar of light our trumpet Pilgrims with thorns To the eye of the cold Under flags made by the blind In one fist Their letter that vanishes If the hand opens: Charity come home Begin.

Written by W S Merwin |

Do Not Die

In each world they may put us
Farther apart
Do not die
As this world is made I might
Live forever

Written by W S Merwin |

The Speed Of Light

 So gradual in those summers was the going
 of the age it seemed that the long days setting out
when the stars faded over the mountains were not
 leaving us even as the birds woke in full song and the dew
glittered in the webs it appeared then that the clear morning
 opening into the sky was something of ours
to have and keep and that the brightness we could not touch
 and the air we could not hold had come to be there all the time
for us and would never be gone and that the axle
 we did not hear was not turning when the ancient car
coughed in the roofer's barn and rolled out echoing
 first thing into the lane and the only tractor
in the village rumbled and went into its rusty
 mutterings before heading out of its lean-to
into the cow pats and the shadow of the lime tree
 we did not see that the swallows flashing and the sparks
of their cries were fast in the spokes of the hollow
 wheel that was turning and turning us taking us
all away as one with the tires of the baker's van
 where the wheels of bread were stacked like days in calendars
coming and going all at once we did not hear
 the rim of the hour in whatever we were saying
or touching all day we thought it was there and would stay
 it was only as the afternoon lengthened on its
dial and the shadows reached out farther and farther
 from everything that we began to listen for what
might be escaping us and we heard high voices ringing
 the village at sundown calling their animals home
and then the bats after dark and the silence on its road

Written by W S Merwin |

A Door

This is a place where a door might be
here where I am standing
In the light outside all the walls

there would be a shadow here
all day long
and a door into it
where now there is me

and somebody would come and knock
on this air
long after I have gone
and there in front of me a life
would open

Written by W S Merwin |

My Friends

 My friends without shields walk on the target

It is late the windows are breaking

My friends without shoes leave
What they love
Grief moves among them as a fire among
Its bells
My friends without clocks turn
On the dial they turn
They part

My friends with names like gloves set out
Bare handed as they have lived
And nobody knows them
It is they that lay the wreaths at the milestones it is their
Cups that are found at the wells
And are then chained up

My friends without feet sit by the wall
Nodding to the lame orchestra
Brotherhood it says on the decorations
My friend without eyes sits in the rain smiling
With a nest of salt in his hand

My friends without fathers or houses hear
Doors opening in the darkness
Whose halls announce

Behold the smoke has come home

My friends and I have in common
The present a wax bell in a wax belfry
This message telling of
Metals this
Hunger for the sake of hunger this owl in the heart
And these hands one
For asking one for applause

My friends with nothing leave it behind
In a box
My friends without keys go out from the jails it is night
They take the same road they miss
Each other they invent the same banner in the dark
They ask their way only of sentries too proud to breathe

At dawn the stars on their flag will vanish

The water will turn up their footprints and the day will rise
Like a monument to my
Friends the forgotten

Written by W S Merwin |

For A Coming Extinction

 Gray whale
Now that we are sinding you to The End
That great god
Tell him
That we who follow you invented forgiveness
And forgive nothing

I write as though you could understand
And I could say it
One must always pretend something
Among the dying
When you have left the seas nodding on their stalks
Empty of you
Tell him that we were made
On another day

The bewilderment will diminish like an echo
Winding along your inner mountains
Unheard by us
And find its way out
Leaving behind it the future
And ours

When you will not see again
The whale calves trying the light
Consider what you will find in the black garden
And its court
The sea cows the Great Auks the gorillas
The irreplaceable hosts ranged countless
And fore-ordaining as stars
Our sacrifices
Join your work to theirs
Tell him
That it is we who are important

Written by W S Merwin |

Death Hand

Temptations still nest in it like basilisks.
Hang it up till the rings fall.

Written by W S Merwin |

Unknown Bird

 Out of the dry days
through the dusty leaves
far across the valley
those few notes never
heard here before

one fluted phrase
floating over its
wandering secret
all at once wells up
somewhere else

and is gone before it
goes on fallen into
its own echo leaving
a hollow through the air
that is dry as before

where is it from
hardly anyone
seems to have noticed it
so far but who now
would have been listening

it is not native here
that may be the one
thing we are sure of
it came from somewhere
else perhaps alone

so keeps on calling for
no one who is here
hoping to be heard
by another of its own
unlikely origin

trying once more the same few
notes that began the song
of an oriole last heard
years ago in another
existence there

it goes again tell
no one it is here
foreign as we are
who are filling the days
with a sound of our own

Written by W S Merwin |

When You Go Away

 When you go away the wind clicks around to the north
The painters work all day but at sundown the paint falls
Showing the black walls
The clock goes back to striking the same hour
That has no place in the years

And at night wrapped in the bed of ashes
In one breath I wake
It is the time when the beards of the dead get their growth
I remember that I am falling
That I am the reason
And that my words are the garment of what I shall never be
Like the tucked sleeve of a one-armed boy

Written by W S Merwin |

The River Of Bees

 In a dream I returned to the river of bees
Five orange trees by the bridge and
Beside two mills my house
Into whose courtyard a blind man followed
The goats and stood singing
Of what was older

Soon it will be fifteen years

He was old he will have fallen into his eyes

I took my eyes
A long way to the calenders
Room after room asking how shall I live

One of the ends is made of streets
One man processions carry through it
Empty bottles their
Images of hope
It was offered to me by name

Once once and once
In the same city I was born
Asking what shall I say

He will have fallen into his mouth
Men think they are better than grass

I return to his voice rising like a forkful of hay

He was old he is not real nothing is real
Nor the noise of death drawing water

We are the echo of the future

On the door it says what to do to survive
But we were not born to survive
Only to live

Written by W S Merwin |

A Family

Would you believe me
if I told you the name of the farmers
at the end of the lake
where it grew shallow over the mossy rocks
and if you came in the morning the grass was blue
the fur of the rocks was wet the small frogs jumped
and the lake was silent behind you
except for echoes

you tied your boat carefully to a tree
before setting out across the cool pasture
watching for the bull
all the way to the barn

or if you came in the afternoon
the pasture glared and hummed the dark leaves smelled
from beside the water and the barn was drunk
by the time you got to it

to climb on the beams
to dive into the distant hay
will you believe
the names of the farmers' children

Written by W S Merwin |

Whenever I Go There

 Whenever I go there everything is changed

The stamps on the bandages the titles
Of the professors of water

The portrait of Glare the reasons for
The white mourning

In new rocks new insects are sitting
With the lights off
And once more I remember that the beginning

Is broken

No wonder the addresses are torn

To which I make my way eating the silence of animals
Offering snow to the darkness

Today belongs to few and tomorrow to no one