Air by W.S. Merwin

Glenn Gould is playing Bach’s Concerto in D Minor, BWV 974, II Adagio. It is almost two in the morning. It is November. The house is quiet. What have I lost, so I can be here now, in this moment? What did I leave behind?

W.S. Merwin

Naturally it is night.
Under the overturned lute with its
One string I am going my way
Which has a strange sound.

This way the dust, that way the dust.
I listen to both sides
But I keep right on.
I remember the leaves sitting in judgment
And then winter.

I remember the rain with its bundle of roads.
The rain taking all its roads.

Young as I am, old as I am,

I forget tomorrow, the blind man.
I forget the life among the buried windows.
The eyes in the curtains.
The wall
Growing through the immortelles.
I forget silence
The owner of the smile.

This must be what I wanted to be doing,
Walking at night between the two deserts,

From Naked Poetry: Recent American Poetry in Open Forms, edited by Stephen Berg and Robert Mezey, published by The Bobbs-Merrill Company, Inc., 1969.



  1. Oh I see, it goes through you first, so I assume your posting it later. That would be weird if you were censoring sincerity. I was simply fishing for an explanation as to how that poem, and so many that I just dont get, is worth my struggling to derive something out of it. Why is so much poetry so inaccessible. It a very very valid question in our time. Poetry is evaporating so quickly, its just about gone. Most people very rarely, if ever, read a poem, and I can understand that. I’m wondering if Im just stupid, or is the form outdated, or if it is written for a very elite group, or a little of it all.

  2. I dont get this poem. Should I try to figure it out? I rarely ever read a poem more then twice, if I dont get it. I read this twice, and wonder, who is he talking to? How many people would read this poem more then once. Poetry confuses me.

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