This morning we opened our Collected Poems of W.S. Merwin to Variation on a Theme: a poem of Merwin counting blessings and expressing gratitude… As we find ourselves doing as we read it, looking around at “sights and moments known only to me”…

Thank you my lifelong afternoon

late in this season of no age

thank you for my windows above the rivers

thank you for the true love you brought me to

when it was time at last and for words

that come out of silence and take me by surprise

and have carried me through the clear day

without once turning to look at me

thank you for friends and long echoes of them

and for those mistakes that were only mine

for the homesickness that guides the young plovers

from somewhere they loved before

they woke into it to another place

they loved before they ever saw it

thank you whole body and hand and eye

thank you for sights and moments known

only to me who will not see them again

except in my mindʻs eye where they have not changed

thank you for showing me the morning stars

and for the dogs who are guiding me


We especially love

Thank you…for those mistakes that were only mine



Addendum. After we published this morning, we found this in Robin Wall Kimmerer’s sublime Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge, and the Teachings of Plants:

We are showered every day with gifts, but they are not meant for us to keep. Their life is in their movement, the inhale and exhale of our shared breath. Our work and our joy is to pass along the gift and to trust that what we put out into the universe will always come back.


We found the poem online at the Merwin Conservancy. There, it was accompanied by Frank Starmer’s image of Morning Stars (above) which is perfect.  They found it at Flickr; it is used under Creative Commons License CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.   The poem was originally published in — The Moon Before Morning. Copper Canyon Press, 2014.

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