W. S. Merwin: Twelve Poems

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Audio: Hear W. S. Merwin read this poem (1:17)

Vehicles (1994)
The Speed of Light (1994)
End of a Day (1994)
Green Fields (1995)
Another River (1997)
Echoing Light (1997)
Remembering (1997)
Shore Birds (1998)
Before the Flood (1998)
Unknown Bird (1999)
Any Time (1999)
Term (1999)


Also see:
Swimming Up Into Poetry
The Atlantic's longtime poetry editor reflects on the career of W. S. Merwin, whose long association with the magazine spans great distances of geography and art (August 1997)


Vehicles (1994)

This is a place on the way after the distances
          can no longer be kept straight here in this dark corner
of the barn a mound of wheels has convened along
          raveling courses to stop in a single moment
and lie down as still as the chariots of the Pharaohs
          some in pairs that rolled as one over the same roads
to the end and never touched each other until they
          arrived here some that broke by themselves and were left
until they could be repaired some that went only
          to occasions before my time and some that have spun
across other countries through uncounted summers
          now they go all the way back together the tall
cobweb-hung models of galaxies in their rings
          of rust leaning against the stone hail from Rene's
manure cart the year he wanted to store them here
          because there was nobody left who could make them like that
in case he should need them and there are the carriage wheels
          that Merot said would be worth a lot some day
and the rim of the spare from bald Bleret's green Samson
          that rose like Borobudur out of the high grass
behind the old house by the river where he stuffed
          mattresses in the morning sunlight and the hens
scavenged around his shoes in the days when the black
          top-hat sedan still towered outside Sandeau's cow barn
with velvet upholstery and sconces for flowers and room
          for two calves instead of the back seat when their time came

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W. S. Merwin received the 2009 Pulitzer Prize in poetry for The Shadow of Sirius. His many works of poetry and translation include Present Company (2007), Migration: New and Selected Poems (2005), and a version of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight (2004). He lives in Hawaii.

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