Poetry Sunday: To the New Year by W.S. Merwin

When I opened the blinds in my office on New Year's Day the first thing I saw was a Mourning Dove feeding on the ground under my bird feeder. It made me smile. What a great way to start the new year. I have happy memories of Mourning Doves from my childhood, among the first birds whose proper name I learned. I suppose whoever named the bird thought its voice sounded mournful, but it always just sounds comforting to me. I think W.S. Merwin would have agreed with me. In this poem, he greets the new year which the world of Nature has not noticed, and refers to the call of the dove in the hush of the morning. It's the sound of the new year
where we have come with our age
our knowledge such as it is
and our hopes such as they are
invisible before us
untouched and still possible
The year is untouched and still possible. Let's make the best of the time it offers.

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
as though they had not noticed
and did not know you at all
then the voice of a dove calls
from far away in itself
to the hush of the morning

so this is the sound of you
here and now whether or not
anyone hears it this is
where we have come with our age
our knowledge such as it is
and our hopes such as they are
invisible before us
untouched and still possible

Comments

  1. i'm familiar with Merwin through studying Zen several years ago: he was a resource and an inspiration at times... good ideas about the presence of the moment and how to be there...

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  2. It's true. An open slate lies before us. The future is daunting in a macro way, but we can make a difference in a micro way - and we should.

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    Replies
    1. It's all about the micro, isn't it? It's really all that we control.

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  3. I love W.S. Merwin! I have a book of his poems. :)

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  4. We see mourning doves a lot in the summer. In the fall and so far this winter, only one afternoon. Kind of strange, but I know they will return to our yard. They are year round birds here in New York State and I do miss their presence. Meanwhile, the new year is a time to start with a new slate, perhaps to think of life in a new way. A poem that makes me think.

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  5. That's a nice one & very good for the new year. It must be dawn though & I don't know I've ever seen dawn on New Year's Day!

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