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
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.
If you are reading this post from an email subscription, you will likely have to link through to the site to view this video.
- W.S. Merwin, prize-winning poet who celebrated nature and condemned war, dies at 91, Hillel Italie, Los Angeles Times
- Remembering W.S. Merwin, National Public Radio, Weekend Edition, Saturday
- W.S. Merwin, 1927-2019, Poetry Foundation
- The Ascetic Insight of W.S. Merwin, Don Chiasson, The New Yorker
- W.S. Merwin — Online Poems, Modern American Poetry, University of Illinois
- W.S. Merwin Amazon Page U.S. HERE, U.K HERE