W. S. Merwin: Twelve Poems


Audio: Hear W. S. Merwin read this poem (1:29)

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)


End of a Day (1994)

In the long evening of April through the cool light
          Bayle's two sheep dogs sail down the lane like magpies
for the flock a moment before he appears near the oaks
          a stub of a man rolling as he approaches
smiling and smiling and his dogs are afraid of him
          we stand among the radiant stones looking out over
green lucent wheat and earth combed red under bare walnut limbs
          bees hanging late in cowslips and lingering bird cherry
stumps and brush that were the grove of hazel trees
          where the land turns above the draped slopes and the valley
filled with its one sunbeam and we exchange a few questions
          as though nothing were different but he has bulldozed the upland
pastures and the shepherds' huts into piles of rubble
          and has his sheep fenced in everyone's meadows now
the smell of box and damp leaves drifts from the woods where a blackbird
          is warning of nightfall Bayle has plans to demolish
the ancient walls of the lane and level it wide
          so that trucks can go all the way down to where the lambs
with perhaps two weeks to live are waiting for him at the wire
          he hurries toward them while the sun sinks and the hour
turns chill as iron and in the oaks the first nightingales
          of the year kindle their unapproachable voices

Presented by

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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