Monday, March 19, 2012

If you are working on your own book at the moment - W.S. Merwin

Dutch artist Berndnaut Smilde creates clouds in a room, playing on the idea of a transitional sculpture.
This image seems perfect for describing the process of book making as does the following poem by W.S. Merwin. My friend the short story writer Midge Raymond first introduced me to this poem when I asked a few friends to my house for a birthday celebration that was to include poetry. Each friend brought a poem with copies to share for everyone and a present that was metaphorical rather than material. One of the best birthday parties ever. I was reminded of this poem over the weekend when I spoke to a group of Edge Writers from Artists Trust. May this bring solace that no book is ever finished -- even one by Merwin.


To the Book

Go on then
in your own time
this is as far
as I will take you
I am leaving your words with you
as though they had been yours
all the time

of course you are not finished
how can you be finished
when the morning begins again
or the moon cries
even the words are not finished
though they may claim to be

never mind
I will not be
listening when they say
how you should be
different in some way
you will be able to tell them
that the fault was all mine

whoever I was
when I made you up

--- W.S. Merwin

4 comments:

  1. I love this poem and don't think I've read it since that day at your house! Thank you for posting it...I needed to read it all over again. :)

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  2. Thank you Midge for introducing me to this. Do you know which of Merwin's books it comes from? I had told Edge students about it but couldn't find it and then sent it to Wendy Call so she could read it to the Edge folks at the end of the day. I love how the poem keeps extending out in connecting circles!

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  3. Love this poem.

    I dug around and found this link: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/present-company-w-s-merwin/1101160002.

    If you scroll down through the Table of Contents, "To the Book" is listed as the last poem.

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