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By W. S. Merwin

In the cards and at the bend in the road

we never saw you

in the womb and in the crossfire

in the numbers

whatever you had your hand in

which was everything

we were told never to put

our faith in you

to bow to you humbly after all

because in the end there was nothing

else we could do

but not to believe in you


still we might coax you with pebbles

kept warm in the hand

or coins or the relics

of vanished animals

observances rituals

not binding upon you

who make no promises

we might do such things only

not to neglect you

and risk your disfavor

oh you who are never the same

who are secret as the day when it comes

you whom we explain

as often as we can

without understanding


Source: Poetry

  • Arts & Sciences

Poet Bio

W. S. Merwin
A prolific poet and translator, W.S. Merwin’s style changed over the years from traditional to free form. He won the Yale Series of Younger Poets Prize for his first book, A Mask for Janus, published in 1952, and the Pulitzer Prize for his 1970 collection The Carrier of Ladders. A prolific writer, he was the author of over 50 books of poetry, prose, and translations. Merwin lived Hawaii for the last 40 years of his life; he was a devoted environmentalist and many of his poems take up ecological themes. He was appointed Poet Laureate of the United States in 2010. He died in 2019.

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