Song of Three Smiles

By W. S. Merwin b. 1927
Let me call a ghost,   
Love, so it be little:   
In December we took
No thought for the weather.

Whom now shall I thank   
For this wealth of water?   
Your heart loves harbors   
Where I am a stranger.

Where was it we lay
Needing no other
Twelve days and twelve nights   
In each other’s eyes?

Or was it at Babel
And the days too small   
We spoke our own tongue   
Needing no other?

If a seed grow green   
Set a stone upon it   
That it learn thereby   
Holy charity.

If you must smile
Always on that other,
Cut me from ear to ear   
And we all smile together.

W. S. Merwin, “Song of Three Smiles” from The First Four Books of Poems (Port Townsend, Washington: Copper Canyon Press, 2000). Copyright © 2000 by W. S. Merwin. Reprinted with the permission of The Wylie Agency, Inc.

Source: The First Four Books of Poems (Copper Canyon Press, 1975)

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Poet W. S. Merwin b. 1927

Subjects Love, Relationships, Infatuation & Crushes, Heartache & Loss

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 W. S. Merwin

Biography

W.S. Merwin is a major American writer whose poetry, translations, and prose have won praise since W.H. Auden awarded his first book, A Mask for Janus (1952), the Yale Younger Poets Prize. Though that first book reflected the formalism of the period, Merwin eventually became known for an impersonal, open style that eschewed punctuation. Writing in the Guardian, Jay Parini described Merwin’s mature style as “his own kind of free . . .

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SUBJECT Love, Relationships, Infatuation & Crushes, Heartache & Loss

Poetic Terms Ballad

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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