Of the many digital treasures we’ve stumbled on recently, this 3-minute excerpt from the 1977 documentary, “Witness: the Ecological Poetry of W.S. Merwin”, continues to resonate. The renown poet and ecological activist speaks eloquently about hope and our interconnectedness, two themes that so many are working to encompass.
…finally, our way of seeing is what we are… What we see in the full sense of the world, not just visual sight but insight into existence. That’s what we are. And there is hope for that, there is hope that somehow before we disappear, we may have learned more about who we are. But I think we can’t do it by excluding our relation to other forms of life. They’re not different than us. There is a sense that we are all one. We are all one.
We also love hearing Merwin read his poem “Place” from The Rain in the Trees, which describes a most hopeful act “on the last day of the world”….
On the last day of the world
I would want to plant a tree
not the fruit
the tree that bears the fruit
is not the one that was planted
I want the tree that stands
in the earth for the first time
with the sun already
and the water
touching its roots
in the earth full of the dead
and the clouds passing
one by one
over its leaves
You can watch the entire film here. Made almost 25 years ago, the print has a soft, dreamy, slightly blurry quality to the landscapes we see as we here Merwin speaking about his life and reading his poems. We’ve been watching it gradually, learning about the poet we know little of except through his poems.
Top photo by Cook Jenshel Photography