Although I’ve often left art and photography books open around my space so I could live with an image for a while, it only recently occurred to me to do that with poetry. A particular section of the vast, astonishing Collected Poems of W.S. Merwin seemed made for momentary reflection. The three-line poems from Feathers on a Hill are as as short and mysterious as haiku, with a similar resonating effect.  I read one first thing in the moring, and then here and there during the day, each time feeling as though I’d been showered with light.

 

Because of things not even remembered
we are here
listening to the water

Among the pines above me
flowers from days ago
are about to open

For each voiceless flower
there is a voice among
the absent flowers

Mountain of
butterflies
hurries

How time disappears
while we live under
the big tree

 

Sally Schneider

 

Feathers on a Hill is available in the small lovely volume, Flower & Hand, that contains three of Merwin’s books.  I’ve given many copies to friends already, with a ribbon marking the place.

 

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