Yesterday came the great news that W.S. Merwin has been appointed our 17th poet laureate. I’ve loved Merwin since I was a teenager. There’s something ethereal about his work that persists even when he’s writing about very physical things, like he’s hovering above the earth. (You can read a review I wrote of one of his books for the New York Times about 10 years ago here.) Here’s a lovely poem that involves oysters and doom—a fine combination by anyone’s standards. Merwin is also a big environmentalist and you can read an essay, as well as a few more poems, about his garden and why he thinks it’s so important to safeguard the planet here.
In TimeThe night the world was going to endwhen we heard those explosions not far awayand the loudspeakers telling usabout the vast fires on the backwaterconsuming undisclosed remnantsand warning us over and overto stay indoors and make no signalsyou stood at the open windowthe light of one candle back in the roomwe put on high boots to be readyfor wherever we might have to goand we got out the oysters and satat the small table feeding themto each other first with the forkthen from our mouths to each otheruntil there were none and we stood upand started to dance without musicslowly we danced around and aroundin circles and after a while we hummedwhen the world was about to endall those years all those nights ago