The American poet, W.S. Merwin has the distinction of having been his long life a poet only.
He has never worked for anyone or for any institution. He has had very great poets as teachers. Among these he credits the Kings James Version of the Bible: to whose cradling cadences I, also, owe among the richest comforts of my young life.
The poet has written and translated poetry and poetry has been the only source of his earnings.
He lives on the lip of an extinct volcano in northern Maui with his wife, Paula. Finding its soil degraded because it had been a pineapple farm, he has restored it with palms : more than 1000 species and still counting.
Young, he visited France and translated the French troubadours into English and has long, also, had a house in the Languedoc region of France.
We are reading him. I read him almost every day for fear, otherwise, of going out of my mind. Philadelphia, June 24, 2017
Botanists take a Core Sample of a 350 ft. Redwood Tree, Redwood National Park, California. Photograph taken by Michael (Nick) Nichols, 2008. On display at the Philadelphia Art Museum, summer of 2017
(from The Rain in the Trees, 1988)
by W.S. Merwin, American, born 1927
On the last day of the world
I would want to plant a tree
not for 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.