In the Winter of My Thirty-Eighth Year

By W. S. Merwin b. 1927
It sounds unconvincing to say When I was young
Though I have long wondered what it would be like
To be me now
No older at all it seems from here
As far from myself as ever

Walking in fog and rain and seeing nothing
I imagine all the clocks have died in the night
Now no one is looking I could choose my age
It would be younger I suppose so I am older
It is there at hand I could take it
Except for the things I think I would do differently
They keep coming between they are what I am
They have taught me little I did not know when I was young

There is nothing wrong with my age now probably
It is how I have come to it
Like a thing I kept putting off as I did my youth

There is nothing the matter with speech
Just because it lent itself
To my uses

Of course there is nothing the matter with the stars
It is my emptiness among them
While they drift farther away in the invisible morning

W. S. Merwin, "In the Winter of my Thirty-Eighth Year" Copyright © 1993 by W.S. Merwin, reprinted with permission of The Wylie Agency LLC.

Source: The Second Four Books of Poems: The Moving Target The Lice The Carriers of Ladders Writings to an Unfinished Accompaniment (Copper Canyon Press, 1993)

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Poet W. S. Merwin b. 1927

Subjects Birth & Birthdays, Midlife

 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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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Birth & Birthdays, Midlife

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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