Wednesday, January 7, 2009

To the New Year

To the New Year*

With what stillness at last
you appear in the valley
your first sunlight reaching down
to touch the tips of a few
high leaves that do not stir
as though they had not noticed
and did not know you at all
then the voice of a dove calls
from far away in itself
to the hush of the morning

so this is the sound of you
here and now whether or not
anyone hears it this is
where we have come with our age
our knowledge such as it is
and our hopes such as they are
invisible before us
untouched and still possible

from Present Company by W.S. Merwin

* I was inspired to read this collection after hearing an interview with William Merwin on National Public Radio. You can hear it here:

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=98326584

1 comment:

Bombay Beauty said...

I was tempted also to include this poem, which Merwin reads during the interview, but it seemed too dark to include in the post, but too powerful not to include.


A single autumn

The year my parents died
on that summer on that fall
three months and three days apart
i moved into the house
where they had lived their last years
it had never been theirs
and was still theirs
in that way for a while
echos in every room without a sound
all the things
we had never been able to say
i could not remember

doll collection in a cabinet
plates stacked on the shelves
lace on drop leaf tables
a dried branch of bittersweet
before a hall mirror
were all planning to wait
the glass door of the house remained closed
days had turned cold
and out in the tall hickories the blaze of autumn had begun on its own

i could do anything



For those of us still lucky to have our parents very much with us, this poem may seem remote. But I could relate to it in two ways: first through me thinking of my parents thinking of their parents and, second and more immediately for me, thinking instead of the end of a relationship where you are the one who is left in the space you shared... to live among the memories. It's not morbid, and doesn't last forever (thankfully) but he captures that image of a house frozen in time while life moves on, memories frozen yet subliming into their more amorphous form, the sense of desolate possibilities so beautifully.

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