Monday, June 6, 2011

"In a Clearing" by W.S. Merwin


The unnumbered herds flow like lichens
Along the darkness each carpet at its height
In silence
Herds without end
Without death
Nothing is before them nothing after
Among the hooves the hooves' brothers the shells
In a sea

Passing through senses
As through bright clearings surrounded with pain
Some of the animals
See souls moving in their word death
With its many tongues that no god could speak
That can describe
Nothing that cannot die

The word
Surrounds the souls
The hide they wear
Like a light in the light
And when it goes out they vanish

In the eyes of the herds there is only one light
They cherish it with the darkness it belongs to
They take their way through it nothing is
Before them and they leave it
A small place
Where dying a sun rises

Source of the text - W.S. Merwin, The Second Four Books of Poems.  Port Townsend, WA: Copper Canyon Press, 1993, pp. 123-4.

TJB: Vast prairie or tiny clearing? Herds pass through a forest of death, pain; round a clearing of sense, of life, not of a light but the light.

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