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J U L Y   1 9 9 9

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by W. S. Merwin

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Also by W. S. Merwin:
Term (1999)
Any Time (1999)
Before the Flood (1998)
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.

Go to:
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Poetry Pages

Out of the dry days
through the dusty leaves
far across the valley
those few notes never
heard here before

one fluted phrase
floating over its
wandering secret
all at once wells up
somewhere else

and is gone before it
goes on fallen into
its own echo leaving
a hollow through the air
that is dry as before

where is it from
hardly anyone
seems to have noticed it
so far but who now
would have been listening

it is not native here
that may be the one
thing we are sure of
it came from somewhere
else perhaps alone

so keeps on calling for
no one who is here
hoping to be heard
by another of its own
unlikely origin

trying once more the same few
notes that began the song
of an oriole last heard
years ago in another
existence there

it goes again tell
no one it is here
foreign as we are
who are filling the days
with a sound of our own

W. S. Merwin has won many awards for his poetry, including the 1998 Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize. His The Folding Cliffs, an epic poem, was published last year.

Copyright © 1999 by The Atlantic Monthly Company. All rights reserved.
The Atlantic Monthly; July 1999; Unknown Bird; Volume 284, No. 1; page 68.

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