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W.S. Merwin


Mountains bloom in spring they shine in summer
they burn in autumn
but they belong to winter
every day we travel farther and at evening
we come to the same country
mountains are waiting but is it for us
all day the night was shining through them
and many of the birds were theirs

The Wine

With what joy I am carrying
a case of wine up a mountain
far behind me others
are being given their burdens
but I could not wait even for them

it is wine that I will not drink
I will not drink it not I
this wine
a signpost is swinging around
up in the woods in the fog
one way saying Almost one way Punished
in another language that I know
but no sign this way

by now all the stone railing
is fog
no longer does the dew brushed
from the pine needles onto my fingers
run down into my armpits
how cold my hands are
how awkward the wine is to carry
on my shoulder
that’s part of the joy

The Piper

It is twenty years
since I first looked for words
for me now
whose wisdom or something would stay me
I chose to
trouble myself about the onset
of this
it was remote it was grievous
it is true I was still a child

I was older then
than I hope ever to be again
that summer sweating in the attic
in the foreign country
high above the piper but hearing him