The Fires Have Waved, The Silence Set Out: W.S. Merwin died on Friday …

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 traveler
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

© W.S. Merwin estate



WILLIAM STANLEY MERWIN (September 30, 1927 – March 15, 2019) was an esteemed American poet with some fifty books of poems, prose and translation. Merwin was an activist involved in the anti-war movement in the ’60s. He was a student of Buddhist philosophy and a proponent of deep ecology.

W.S. Merwin was born in New York City, grew up in Union City, New Jersey and Scranton, Pennsylvania and died in Maui, Hawaii, where he’d lived for many years and was active in the environmental restoration of rainforests.  He was noted for a love of nature and the condemnation of war and industrialization.  He had a difficult childhood and youth and words were his escape. He won prestigious awards, including two Pulitzers and stands tall in the pantheon of literary greats. We are grateful to have a few of his collections on our shelf.

Photo credit: The street in Union City, New Jersey, which was renamed for him in 2006 courtesy of Luigi Novi under CC BY 3.0.

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5 Comments on “The Fires Have Waved, The Silence Set Out: W.S. Merwin died on Friday …

  1. What a lovely looking gentleman. Watching the video now. There are people we just look at and know they are caring and you’d love to have met them. Thank you for this Jamie. 🌹

    Liked by 1 person

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