In Which Our Obsession With Clipse Suffers From Confusion With Our Continued Appreciation of W.S. Merwin

There are very few poets writing in traditional verse, with rehashed signification and themes whose lyric is fresh and true enough to interest us. Paul Muldoon lost me about the same time he started writing poems about The Rolling Stones. Ted Kooser, our recent Poet Laureate, was a fine example of how to make traditional verse interesting. And of course some of our true masters are still alive and should be of interest in whatever style they continue to write–our Adrienne Richs, our Susan Howes, our Derek Walcotts, our William Logans, our Michael S. Harpers. They continue to find an audience even while slowly integrating new forms and types of poetry within their oeuvre.

The poet that gets slammed sometimes for being too pervasively simple, of rehashing too many old themes, is the now ancient W.S. Merwin. He found his way into the pages of The New Yorker a long time ago. He is nothing else but a poet; although a collection of prose reminiscences and essays have made their way into publication, his work in those genres simply reenacts a classicism more fittingly applied to poetry.

The following selection is from Merwin’s 1978 effort, The Carrier of Ladders.

You can also find more Merwin here and here.

“Need Your Needs” — Georgie James

The Forbears

by W.S. Merwin

I think I was cold in the womb
shivering I
cold too I think did my brother suffer
who slept before me there
and cold I am sure was John in the early
as in the earlier
dawn all they
even whose names are anonymoust
now known for their cold only
I believe they quaking lay
beforetime there
dancing like teeth and I
was them all foretelling me
if not the name the trembling
if not the time the dancing
if not the hour the longing
in the round night

“Wamp Wamp” — Clipse feat. Slim Thug

Man With One Leaf in October Night

by W.S. Merwin

The leaves turn black when they have learned how to fly
so does the day
but in the wind of the first hours of darkness
sudden joy sent
from an unknown tree
I have not deserved you

“Grinding” — The Neptunes feat. Clipse

Night Wind

by W.S. Merwin

All through the dark the wind looks
for the grief it belongs to
but there was no place
for that any more

I have looked too
and seen only the nameless hunger
watching us out of the stars

and the black fields


One thought on “In Which Our Obsession With Clipse Suffers From Confusion With Our Continued Appreciation of W.S. Merwin

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