William Stanley Merwin

(September 30, 1927 / New York / United States)

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For The Anniversary Of My Death


Every year without knowing it I have passed the day
When the last fires will wave to me
And the silence will set out
Tireless traveller
Like the beam of a lightless star

Then I will no longer
Find myself in life as in a strange garment
Surprised at the earth
And the love of one woman
And the shamelessness of men
As today writing after three days of rain
Hearing the wren sing and the falling cease
And bowing not knowing to what

Submitted: Monday, January 13, 2003

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  • Freshman - 1,353 Points Kay Staley (9/30/2014 9:53:00 AM)

    This poem is so carefully made random and set so far out yet so close to the heart that it is hard to understand. Its abstract quality and seemingly careless musings are very thought out. I only regret that it doesnt rhyme and that it has such a vague quality that leaves you with a delightful hopeless feel. (Report) Reply

  • Gold Star - 14,340 Points Gangadharan Nair Pulingat (9/30/2014 4:05:00 AM)

    A poem having some philosophical thoughts about life and the shamelessness of man he wrote. A life poem and remembering the death also.wonderful creativity. (Report) Reply

  • Rookie - 857 Points Liliana ~el (9/30/2013 6:08:00 PM)

    An abstract questioning with depth but no answer as many live on awaiting enlightenment! (Report) Reply

  • Rookie - 134 Points Danny Draper (9/30/2013 8:10:00 AM)

    The essence is often used and here it is evoked by the consideration, not resignation, but a gentleness that knows finality without remorse but accepts simple interconnected life with the reverence of an uncomplicated sophisticated traveller with beauty and art in the sky and daily rituals. Beautiful. (Report) Reply

  • Rookie - 182 Points Karen Sinclair (9/30/2013 3:13:00 AM)

    A touching write indeed. Considering life's continuum after his candle has gone out. I wonder if after the three days rain relates to his mourners hearing birdsong and managing to be lifted by nature and life eventually
    And bowing not knowing to what... This reminds me of Edwin Mogans strawberries final line. It is to me an enticer of wanting more (maybe words, life or even understanding) . Beautiful. (Report) Reply

  • Rookie Ron Kongslie (1/25/2009 6:54:00 PM)

    Is this poem amazing, or what? I saw, and heard, Bill Merwin at the U. of Oregon back in the mid-70's. One of those good poets who speak from way beyond the heart. This poem is not about the thoughts of your own death as it is about the mystery of life. My two all-time favorite poems. This poem and 'Snowfall In The Afternoon' by Robert Bly. Ron Kongslie Portland, Oregon 1/25/09 (Report) Reply

    Gold Star - 14,340 Points Gangadharan Nair Pulingat (9/30/2014 4:06:00 AM)

    Informative comment and liked it.

Read all 6 comments »

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