I love how reading a poem can almost instantly alleviate stress. So I thought I’d share this sweet bit of verse from W.S. Merwin. Not only does it capture the beauty of an everyday moment, it tells us a little story. We learn about the narrator’s history, age, and how his garden exists with or without him. Merwin lived for many years in Hawaii, restoring a few acres of treed land he preserved as the Merwin Conservancy (not pictured above). Lucky for us he did.
If you need a silent moment of relaxation, read this. You can hear the soft chiming as if you were there.
In the garden house
the digging fork and the spade
hanging side by side on their nails
play a few notes I remember
that echo many years
as the breeze comes in with me
out of the summer light
they know the notes by now
so well that the music
seems to be going on
all by itself in the shade
of the roof I made for them
half my life ago
and I see the garden now
far away in itself
reflected in the polished spade
as a place I have never been
while the music goes on
echoing the days
–W.S. Merwin, from The Moon Before Morning, (Copper Canyon Press, 2014). Copyright 2014 by W.S. Merwin.
For another garden poem by W.S. Merwin, click here.
W.S. Merwin is one of my favorite poets because he’s intensely connected to the natural world. He digs deep into plant love through his words. Not only did he believe in the importance of preserving the environment, he lived for years in Hawaii, gradually restoring a palm forest on Maui. It now houses almost 3,000 palm trees. Within that collection, there are 125 different tree genera, which subdivide into 400 species and 800 varieties. Botanically speaking, that’s incredibly impressive.
A Vision Early On
I also admire W.S. Merwin (as well as many poets) because he understood the important relationship between our mental health and the natural world. Decades ago, he noticed what we lose as a society when we go indoors. Here’s his thoughts from the 1990s: “We go into a supermarket and we have artificial light, canned music, everything’s deodorized–we can’t touch or taste or smell anything, and we hear only what they want us to hear. No wonder everybody wanders around like zombies! Because our senses have been taken away from us for us a while. A supermarket brings the whole thing into focus. The things that are there don’t belong there, they didn’t grow there. They have a shelf life, which is being tented, so that we can buy them. It’s only about selling things. This is a very strange kind of situation, but it’s typical of our lives.”
A Moment of Peace
Here’s a lovely poem by Merwin about a tree. Notice how the poem travels to different places and where it ends. So simple and ephemeral. I hope it gives you a moment of peace.
Place On the last day of the world I would want to plant a tree what for not for the fruit the tree that hears the fruit is not the one that was planted I want the tree that stands in the earth for the first time with the sun already going down and the water touching its roots in the earth full of the dead and the clouds passing one by one over its leaves
Photo by Maria Maliy
Hey everyone, today’s inspirational quote comes from Edgar Allan Poe’s poem “The Raven.” If you don’t know it, you may want to check it out. It’s creepy and musical and lovely, about how a young man, who, one night while sitting by the fire, hears a raven tapping at his door. When he opens the door and the bird flies in, the bird haunts him, reminding him of his lost love, Lenore. Through the repetition of the word “Nevermore,” the raven eventually drives the narrator mad. He’s tortured not only by his lost love but also by his own mortality.