Thursday, July 2, 2015

W. S. Merwin: "Elegy for a Walnut Tree"

Old friend now there is no one alive

who remembers when you were young
it was high summer when I first saw you
in the blaze of day most of my life ago

with the dry grass whispering in your shade

and already you had lived through wars

and echoes of wars around your silence

through days of parting and seasons of absence

with the house emptying as the years went their way

until it was home to bats and swallows
and still when spring climbed toward summer

you opened once more the curled sleeping fingers

of newborn leaves as though nothing had happened

you and the seasons spoke the same language

and all these years I have looked through your limbs
to the river below and the roofs and the night

and you were the way I saw the world

"Elegy for a Walnut Tree" by W. S. Merwin, from The Moon Before Morning (Copper Canyon Press, 2014). Text as published in The Guardian (05/24/14).

Art credit: Untitled image of a walnut tree by unknown photographer.


  1. One of my favorites by this amazing poet.

  2. Walking in a park or anywhere trees have lived long and grown tall, I've often paused to look up and wonder who else may have passed by; what momentous scenes may have taken place beneath these branches; and whether anyone else has paused here and felt awash in peace as have I.


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