It’s a curious time of year in New England, yo-yo-ing from bleak to hopeful, and lately the news seems to be following suit, with horror and mourning snuggled right up next to courage and celebration.
A good companion for this time has been the poetry of WS Merwin, who passed away on March 15, the Ides of March. Much of Merwin’s early and mid-life writing conveys the same sense of bewilderment and even despair that comes with reading our recent news, a “how did I get here?” sort of anguish, a seeking that is beyond urgent.
This backdrop is one reason I love the poem “In the Time of the Blossoms” so much. Here we find, in the midst of that disconnected searching, a moment of reconnection:
That last line, “Sing to me,” just lifts up into the air, and I’m intrigued that it can be read either as a statement or a plea.
In the tumult of this week, I found myself coming upon some early blossoms and buds, at long last, and sensed what Merwin does here, a simultaneous grounding and lifting. Air and earth. Life and death. Motion and stillness.
Dear friends, if we find ourselves unmoored this week, let’s find a patch of tree or leaf or blossom or bud. Let’s whisper, whether in observation or supplication,
“Sing to me.”
* More of Merwin’s poetry can be found in his many publications, or at Poetry Foundation, a group that makes endless poetic resources freely accessible, for which they deserve our gratitude and support.