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The First Four Books of Poems

Half RoundelI make no prayer For the spoilt season, The weed of Eden. I make no prayer. Save us the green In the weed of time.Now is November; In night uneasy Nothing I say. I make no prayer. Save us from the water That washes us away.What do I ponder? All smiled disguise, Lights in cold places, I make no prayer. Save us from air That wears us loosely.The leaf of summer To cold has come In little time. I make no prayer. From earth deliver And the dark therein.Now is no whisper Through all the living. I speak to nothing. I make no prayer. Save us from fire Consuming up and down.Evening with Lee Shore and CliffsSea-shimmer, faint haze, and far out a bird Dipping for flies or fish. Then, when over That wide silk suddenly the shadow Spread skating, who turned with a shiver High in the rocks? And knew, then only, the waves' Layering patience: how they would follow after, After, dogged as sleep, to his inland Dreams, oh beyond the one lamb that cried In the olives, past the pines' derision. And heard Behind him not the sea's gaiety but its laughter.The FishermenWhen you think how big their feet are in black rubber And it slippery underfoot always, it is clever How they thread and manage among the sprawled nets, lines, Hooks, spidery cages with small entrances. But they are used to it. We do not know their names. They know our needs, and live by them, lending them wiles And beguilements we could never have fashioned for them; They carry the ends of our hungers out to drop them To wait swaying in a dark place we could never have chosen. By motions we have never learned they feed us. We lay wreaths on the sea when it has drowned them.
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About the Author

W.S. Merwin is one of America's leading poets. His prizes include the 2005 National Book Award for his collected poems, Migration, the Pulitzer Prize, the Stevens Award, and fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and Lannan Foundation. He is the author of dozens of books of poetry and translations. He lives in Hawaii, where he cultivates endangered palm trees.

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