Birthday Poems ~ "To the Book"

"They say it's your birthday ..." by The Beatles is my favorite birthday song -- which I did not sing today. Instead, I invited a small handful of  very close women friends over for an afternoon of poetry, wine, food and cake ~ what could be better? Even though some of my closest friends aren't poets (and many are) everyone agreed to bring a poem or a favorite saying to share. I also created a set of questions for the day --- some funny and some serious. I loved it -- and I think the others enjoyed themselves, too. I thought I would share a few of the poems with you over the next few days -- and of course offer up some birthday cake. This poem was offered up by fiction writer Midge Raymond and she shared with us that she often reads it after finishing a writing project; I think you will see why.

To the Book

Go one 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

I didn't know this Merwin poem and I immediately fell in love with it.  I also identify strongly with the sense of sending the poems out into the world --- finishing the book and knowing that there is no such thing as finished. And I adore the humor of, "even the words are not finished / though they may claim to be." Those pesky words. Where would we be without them?


  1. Love Merwin's poetry. One of my favorate is a very short poem from his book "The Shadow of Sirius" titled, "Warn Words."

    By the way - Happy anniversary to your blog!

  2. Ah, Susan, thanks for this, via Midge Raymond, whose blog I've just started following. I am always in awe of those poets who can conceive of a book as a project with clear boundaries. It seems I'm always toying with mine. The Merwin helps.

  3. very nice poem ""


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