Friday, January 31, 2020

Poetry Friday: To the New Year (and to W.S. Merwin)

We're already a full month into 2020, but I'm still reviewing 2019: summarizing, reflecting, looking back before I look ahead. I'm still figuring out and thinking about resolutions (I sometimes make them, sometimes do not. I'm a Questioner, according to Gretchen Rubin's "Four Tendencies" framework, so I make resolutions when I've decided they make sense, when they address a question I've been pondering.)

It takes me awhile, in other words, to catch up with time.

So today I'm sharing a Merwin favorite. I especially love the last three lines:

and our hopes such as they are
invisible before us
untouched and still possible

We lost this marvelous poet in 2019. He was 91. Read more about him here and here.

To the New Year
By W.S. Merwin

With what stillness at last
you appear in the valley
your first sunlight reaching down
to touch the tips of a few
high leaves that do not stir

(Read the whole thing here, at The Poetry Foundation.)



Linda B said...

I still stay up until midnight, though I am not at a fabulous party, but go outside to greet the year. This is a new poem to me, Karen, but Merwin is a favorite poet. How wonderful is that first line: "With what stillness at last/you appear..." That's what I know each new year's eve I greet the new year. Thanks for sharing your thoughts about resolutions, too. One can take them seriously or lightly, a way to begin!

Janice Scully said...

I, too, admire Merwin and thank you for sharing this poem and his take on the new year.

jama said...

Sigh, such a gorgeous poem. Needed to read these beautiful words today. Thank you. :)

tanita✿davis said...

I adore Merwin - and each poem of his is a rediscovery of a treasure. Thanks for this one.

Linda Mitchell said...

Beautiful poem. I admire your finding poems for PF. One of my goals this year is to find more poems to read...I get so focused on the writing. But, I need to read poems like this too. Thank you.

Andromeda Jazmon said...

Lovely, how Merwin combines the coming light with the sound of a dove, and mystery. Thanks for sharing this beautiful poem!

Kay said...

I love this poem. Thanks for sharing it.

Karen Eastlund said...

Thanks for the introduction to W.S/ Merwin, a new poet to me. I like the poem very much... "Our knowledge such as it is, our hopes such as they are." Yes...

Carol Varsalona said...

What a great poem this is, Karen. Thanks for introducing me to Merwin. The background piece on him is fascinating and makes me want to read more of his poetry.

Great statement by Merwin:
“I think there’s a kind of desperate hope built into poetry now that one really wants, hopelessly, to save the world. One is trying to say everything that can be said for the things that one loves while there’s still time. I think that’s a social role, don’t you? ...

Mary Lee said...

I'm trying to decide if this poem is optimistic. Is it a good thing that our hopes are always there, slightly beyond our reach?

Karen Edmisten said...

Linda B., we are always up at midnight, too, from long-held traditions with our daughters. :) I love that you go outside to greet the new year. :)

Janice, you are most welcome, and Jama, I'm so glad the words were well-timed.

Tanita, I agree about the "rediscovery of a treasure." Perfectly put.

Linda M.: I love that you are focused on the writing, not the finding! :) I would love to focus more on the writing of poetry this year, vs. the finding. :D

Andromeda, Kay, Karen, so happy to share this one with you!

Carol, I zeroed in on that statement, too. I love the idea that poetry has a kind of desperate hope.

Mary Lee, I know what you mean, but I read the lines, "untouched and still possible" less as "out of reach" and more as, "as yet unrealized." I think conversations about hope, in general, are interesting though -- is hope folly, or is it our only hope?

Jone said...

I want to focus on my writing. I feel that 2019 was a great year of writing. I hope that 2020 will bring more.