Sunday, September 27, 2009

“survive with me”

That’s the third line of Merwin’s “The Nomad Flute,” first poem in The Shadow of Sirius. (The second line was quoted at “life world.”)

My citing a line of the poem expresses my desire to dwell with the Merwin book, not a special appeal of the first poem. Actually, I haven’t read the poem beyond the lines I’ve quoted. The Shadow of Sirius is on my desk with a bunch of other books I’d intended to do something with soon. The Merwin book happens to be the most recent book of poetry I’ve bought, and noting it again by way of another line from the first poem expresses (at least) desire to dwell with the poem, maybe that poem (I’ll see), but as The Poem, as free verse form of writing, as exemplified by Merwin’s new book. (But I intend more by the quoting, having the line resonate with the occasion/context of quotation, as if each line stands alone, of self-sufficient character in the body of its moment, furthering its surround).

Years ago, I’d take poetry to bed daily, lying with a favored poem, annotating lines like notes of intimate conversation. Each poem of The Carrier of Ladders by Merwin, 1973, was so cherished. And other collections by Merwin. And countless others, mygod, forgotten, though maybe a part of me somehow as I am, whomever, whatever.

There is no poem titled “The Shadow of Sirius” in Merwin’s new collection. Bright star Sirius, the brightest in the sky, gives shadow, the shadow naming all the poems in his gathering.

A greyscale photo of him on the back shows an old man, maybe resigned or reconciled, looking left of the camera, not at the reader. “Mysteries of light, darkess, temporality, and eternity interweave throughout W.S. Merwin’s celebrated collection of poems.”

“The very best of all Merwin,” says Harold Bloom, supreme court justice of The Literary—“all Merwin,” like a kind of humanity, and here is the best of its kind. Harold’s Harvard compatriot, Helen Vendler, says of the poems: “In his personal anonymity, his strict individuated manner, his defense of the earth, and his heartache at time’s passing, Merwin” is so Merwinian (hate it, dear persiflager I so love). “I have only what I remember,” he’s quoted to say.

the star is fading

Yet one’s shadow may be here to stay.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

“You that sang to me once sing to me now”

That title is the first line of the first poem, “The Nomad Flute,”
in W.S. Merwin’s new collection The Shadow of Sirius
(Copper Canyon, 2009).


I’d intended to dwell with the poem. My later-today time with the “Introduction” of Ecstatic Quotidian was not what I had in mind for appreciating Merwin tonight. But his opening line does provide a good complement to what I’ve done.