Memorandum

By W. S. Merwin b. 1927
Save these words for a while because
of something they remind you of
although you cannot remember
what that is a sense that is part
dust and part the light of morning

you were about to say a name
and it is not there I forget
them too I am learning to pray
to Perdita to whom I said
nothing at the time and now she
cannot hear me as far as I
know but the day goes on looking

the names often change more slowly
than the meanings whole families
grow up in them and then are gone
into the anonymous sky
oh Perdita does the hope go on
after the names are forgotten

and is the pain of the past done
when the calling has stopped and those
betrayals so long repeated
that they are taken for granted
as the shepherd does with the sheep

W. S. Merwin, “Memorandum” from The Pupil. Copyright © 2001 by W. S. Merwin, used with permission of The Wylie Agency LLC.

Source: The Pupil (Alfred A. Knopf, 2001)

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Poet W. S. Merwin b. 1927

Subjects Living, Time & Brevity, Relationships, Family & Ancestors

 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 Living, Time & Brevity, Relationships, Family & Ancestors

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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