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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Historian of the American Revolution, Thomas Fleming, died

American Historian and Historical Novelist, Thomas Fleming (July 5, 1927 – July 23, 2017)


“Novelists focus on the intimate side of life. This is the first time anyone has looked at the intimate side of the lives of these famous Americans, with an historian’s eyes.” Fleming said with regard to Intimate Lives of the Founding Fathers, which examines the roles of women in the lives of these early leaders

Thomas Fleming was an historian and former president of PEN America and the Society of American Historians. When his tenure as president of PEN ended, he remained active in its Freedom to Write program. Fleming chaired the New York American Revolution Round Table and was an honorary member of the New York State Society of the Cincinnati. Fleming died last month on the 23rd.  He is survived by his wife, writer Alice Hoffman (literature and fiction, young adult, magical realism).

Thomas Fleming’s work reflects the foci of his interests –  the American Revolution and military history – with books including Liberty! The American Revolution And The Future Of America, Duel: Alexander Hamilton, Aaron Burr, and the History of America and Washington’s Secret War: The Hidden History of Valley Forge.

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