Monday, July 09, 2007

One of the best poems ever

For The Anniversary Of My Death

Every year without knowing it I have passed the day
When the last fires will wave to me
And the silence will set out
Tireless traveller
Like the beam of a lightless star
Then I will no longer
Find myself in life as in a strange garment
Surprised at the earth
And the love of one woman
And the shamelessness of men
As today writing after three days of rain
Hearing the wren sing and the falling cease
And bowing not knowing to what

W.S. Merwin

I'm not dying or anything, so don't worry. I just love W.S. Merwin and heard him speak at the University of Iowa, when I was a student. I was hoping he would read this poem, but he didn't. He read his more current work. It was disappointing, like going to a concert of your favorite band. You expect they'll play the songs you know, the songs that made them famous, the songs you rehearsed in the shower, with a shampoo mohawk, and nozzle microphone. But they surprise you with all their new work, and you just can't wait to get back in the car and listen to the music you already know.

Maybe I'm a bit dense, but I'd never thought about the fact that every year we live the anniversary of our death. We eat lunch, we fill up our car with gas, we brush our teeth, completely unaware that it is an anniversary of something that whether we like it or not, will happen someday. It's inevitable. And the inevitableness of it, is actually what makes it less frightening for me. If death was something I could avoid, by eating my vegetables for 1000 years, or looking both ways, it would be more frightening. Having no control just takes the pressure off, ya know?


Anonymous said...

i love it that you post so many poems. they make one think. thanks for sharing. jcn

MONSTER said...

It is very strange to think about your own death. We are signing our living trust/power of attorney/will, etc. documents tomorrow so it's been in my thoughts, especially who would be the best person to take care of the child, if we both disappear suddenly? Yikes.

I asked my hubby the other day if he had the choice of knowing the exact day of his death, would he want to know, and he, without skipping a beat, said, "absolutely."

I wasn't so sure because on one hand it would totally recontextualize everything but on the other hand, is ignorance bliss???!!!

One thing I do know is that the inevitablity of death does give my life its sharp sweetness, its urgency, its dreams, its meaning.