Bread

By W. S. Merwin b. 1927

for Wendell Berry

Each face in the street is a slice of bread   
wandering on
searching

somewhere in the light the true hunger   
appears to be passing them by   
they clutch

have they forgotten the pale caves
they dreamed of hiding in
their own caves
full of the waiting of their footprints
hung with the hollow marks of their groping   
full of their sleep and their hiding

have they forgotten the ragged tunnels
they dreamed of following in out of the light   
to hear step after step

the heart of bread
to be sustained by its dark breath   
and emerge

to find themselves alone   
before a wheat field
raising its radiance to the moon

W. S. Merwin, “Bread” from The Second Four Books of Poems (Port Townsend, Washington: Copper Canyon Press, 1993). Copyright © 1993 by W. S. Merwin. Reprinted with the permission of The Wylie Agency, Inc.

Source: The Second Four Books of Poems (Copper Canyon Press, 1993)

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Poet W. S. Merwin b. 1927

POET’S REGION U.S., Western

Poetic Terms Free Verse

 W. S. Merwin

Biography

W.S. Merwin is a prolific, leading American writer whose poetry, translations, and prose have won praise over seven decades. His first book, A Mask for Janus (1952),  was chosen by W.H. Auden for 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 . . .

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POET’S REGION U.S., Western

Poetic Terms Free Verse

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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