Pick-a-Poem: W.S. Merwin


Hi, blog readers! I hope you’re all having a wonderful week so far. We’ve reached the midpoint — Wednesday — so that means it’s time for another installment of Pick-a-Poem. If you can’t seem to pick a poem on your own, try out one of the poems we feature here each Wednesday. All of these poems come from Poetry Daily, which is a very helpful website if you’re looking for new poetry. This week we’re featuring Variations to the Accompaniment of a Cloud by W.S. Merwin.

According to his bio page, W.S. Merwin has had over twenty books of poetry published. These include Selected Translations (2013) and The Moon before Morning (2014), both from Copper Canyon Press. He has received numerous awards, including a Pulitzer Prize and the Lenore Marshall Poetry prize. His works appear in a two-volume set entitled The Collected Poems of W.S. Merwin from The Library of America.

Variations to the Accompaniment of a Cloud by W.S. Merwin

Because I do not hope ever again
to pass this way
I sing these
notes now in silence
each in its own time
one morning near the end of spring
among the invisible unheard stars I sing
this one time with the hope that is here
in every breath
may these notes be heard another morning
in another life
in another spring together

Because I do not hope ever to pass
this way again

one morning late in spring
in the cold rain above the valley I sing
in the old house I came to in my youth
on the ridge looking over the river
a house that had been left to its own silence
for half a century
home for bats and swallows and patches
of sunlight wandering across the floors
under holes in the roof on the day
I first saw it
and recognized it without knowing it
above the same river

Because I do not hope to see again
this spring morning with its cloud of light
that wakes the blackbird in the trees downhill
from the house I came to long ago
when I was young and the silence
was a summer day
that first summer that I would see
from these windows
I came to see
the plum trees flowering on the slope below
the snow swirling outside the kitchen
I will not see this morning fill
with light again along the green field
under the walnut trees those silent ancients
I reach out to it with words
it never hears

Because I do not hope ever to find
my way again
to the moments of pure
single fortune and the unrepeated mistakes
that led me here
I look back in wonder
at how I found you and we came to be here
where has it gone
never was there one step backward

Although I do not hope to know again
what I have known since the beginning
not for a moment has it left me
I keep looking for what has always been mine
searching for it even as I
think of leaving it
my love was always
woven with leaving

moment by moment leaving
the one time

I hope you enjoyed this week’s featured poem! For more posts like this, click here.

— Jet Fuel Blog Editor, Mary Egan

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