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O C T O B E R   1 9 9 8

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by W. S. Merwin

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Also by W. S. Merwin:
Unknown Bird (1999)
Term (1999)
Any Time (1999)
Shore Birds (1998)
Three Poems (1997)
Green Fields (1995)
Three French Poems (1994)

From Atlantic Unbound:

Swimming Up into Poetry, by Peter Davison (August 28, 1997)
The Atlantic's poetry editor reflects on the career of W. S. Merwin.

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Why did he promise me
that we would build ourselves
an ark all by ourselves
out in back of the house
on New York Avenue
in Union City New Jersey
to the singing of the streetcars
after the story
of Noah whom nobody
believed about the waters
that would rise over everything
when I told my father
I wanted us to build
an ark of our own there
in the back yard under
the kitchen could we do that
he told me that we could
I want to I said and will we
he promised me that we would
why did he promise that
I wanted us to start then
nobody will believe us
I said that we are building
an ark because the rains
are coming and that was true
nobody ever believed
we would build an ark there
nobody would believe
that the waters were coming

W. S. Merwin has won many awards, including the 1998 Ruth Lily Poetry Prize. His epic poem, The Folding Cliffs, will be published this month.

Copyright © 1998 by The Atlantic Monthly Company. All rights reserved.
The Atlantic Monthly; October 1998; Before the Flood; Volume 282, No. 4; page 94.

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