Sunday, April 13, 2008

Before A Departure In Spring - Merwin

Before A Departure in Spring

Once more it is April with the first light sifting
through the young leaves heavy with dew making the colors
remember who they are the new pink of the cinnamon tree
the gilded lichens of the bamboo the shadowed bronze
of the kamani and the blue day opening
as the sunlight descends through it all like the return
of a spirit touching without touch and unable
to believe it is here and here again and awake
reaching out in silence into the cool breath
of the garden just risen from darkness and days of rain
it is only a moment the birds fly through it calling
to each other and are gone with their few notes and the flash
of their flight that had vanished before we ever knew it
we watch without touching any of it and we
can tell ourselves only that this is April this is the morning
this never happened before and we both remember it

W. S. Merwin

W.S. Merwin was born in New York City in 1927. His mother was orhphaned and eventually lost her brother and her first child; loss was prevalent in her life. His father grew up in an abusive home where violence was displayed. Sentiments of these influences are found in Merwin's work, especially in his early poetry. He grew up in Union City, New Jersey, and in Scranton, Pennsylvania. Merwin attended Princeton University and traveled throughout Europe working as a tutor and later found work as a translator. While living in England Merwin and his second wife, Dido, were friends with Ted Hughes and Sylvia Plath witnessing both the disintegration of that marriage and Sylvia's dissent into suicide. He has resided all over the world, finally making his home in the Hawaiian Islands with his wife, Paula, whom he married in 1983. Merwin now works to restore his land to its natural state of native forest and practices Zen Buddhism in addition to writing and making public appearances.

The recipient of many esteemed poetry honors, awards, and prizes, Merwin is a Pulitzer Prize winner for Poetry and a past Chancellor of the Fellowship of the Academy of American Poets.

Photograph of Merwin taken at the University of Arkansas in 2007 by Johnathon Williams.


mm said...

What a beautiful poem, Sky. Thank you. The lack of punctuation and the consequent flow makes its flow seem like a natural process - akin to the sap rising, flowers opening, sun rising. No breaks. Just a smooth flow.

Thank you for posting this, and the information on Merwin. And the blue of those hyacinths is stunning.

rdl said...

Interesting stuff!

Bitterroot said...

This is such an interesting post about W.S. Merwin. I've learned something valuable. I also appreciated the background about Patry Francis, whose blog I admire so much.

Mary Sheehan Winn said...

what a beautiful poem and the photos are beautiful. Spring flowers are amazing EVERY TIME! The rebirth.
Thanks for your visit to my blog on April 5th and your comment on my 'Florida Rain' post. I am a Florida snowbird from January to May and reside in Massachusetts the reat of the year. Best of both worlds :D

MB said...

Sky, this is lovely, thank you. I enjoyed mm's response to the poem as it was much like mine. The flow of the poem feels to me like the light seeping in through the trees and flowers. Your flowers are beautiful.

colleen said...

I'm going to do a little more research on him. I noticed his poem isn't punctuated. I collect examples of poets who don't, like I collect names of couples where the woman is significantly older than the man (like me and Joe -- 10 years).