Excerpts from Finding the Islands

I’ve been reading a book of poems by WS Merwin, Finding the Islands.

A young W.S. Merwin.

In the high mountains
the late grass
grows as fast as it can

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There is an incredible simplicity to the poems, and a relentless formal structure throughout the book.  But the poems also have a wonderful freedom and a profound sensitivity.

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I have not forgotten
the first touch of your fingers
I listen to the stream in the night

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Reading this poems has reminded me of something important – to get meaning from the world, we have to make ourselves vulnerable to it, to feel with real sensitivity.  And without this vulnerability, there is no love or poetry.

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Pine needles as stars
one word for all the trees ever seen
and their lifetimes

Finding the Islands – the islands, I believe, refer to two different concepts.  The entire book is written in these short, three line verses, almost like haiku.  The islands are little moments of peace and understanding discovered in the ebb and flow of life.  However, we are also the islands, each one of us left alone trying to find meaning and to understand one another.

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