Wednesday, November 5, 2014

those orange places on fire

Echoing Light

by W.S. Merwin

When I was beginning to read I imagined
that bridges had something to do with birds
and with what seemed to be cages but I knew
that they were not cages it must have been autumn
with the dusty light flashing from the streetcar wires
and those orange places on fire in the pictures
and now indeed it is autumn the clear
days not far from the sea with a small wind nosing
over dry grass that yesterday was green
the empty corn standing trembling and a down
of ghost flowers veiling the ignored fields
and everywhere the colors I cannot take
my eyes from all of them red even the wide streams
red it is the season of migrants
flying at night feeling the turning earth
beneath them and I woke in the city hearing
the call notes of the plover then again and
again before I slept and here far downriver
flocking together echoing close to the shore
the longest bridges have opened their slender wings


The Merwin poem is so lovely, I should just be quiet and leave it at that. I love the confusion with words at the beginning of the poem. Do you have words like that? That are fused together because of a childhood muddling? The words bridge and bird.....I can completely see how that would come about, and Merwin plays beautifully with it at the end of the poem, too.

Because we've been blessed with an extra long autumn, I do feel like I oughtn't take my eyes from the remaining surprising, late in the day.

I'm drawn to the places on fire, to the reds, and oranges, and all that glows....

It is poetry that I want now... long poems; I want the concentration, and the romance, and the words
all glued together, fused, glowing.

- Virginia Woolf

It's the season to draw the last lingering colours into your soul. For long walks, long poems, for poetry and for slowing down, breathing. 

For a secular person, I'm very often drawn to Thomas Merton. This morning, leafing through Dialogues with Silence:

"My God, I pray better to you by breathing.
I pray better to you by walking than by talking."


  1. Thank you for today's post. That third photo is beyond stunning. It will haunt me for the rest of the day, I think. And the Merton quotation just spoke to my heart this morning.

  2. very beautiful. i love your manage to capture the light so well. it's always an inspiration to visit your blog. always.

  3. All of this spoke to me this morning, especially Virginia Woolf's words. What a beautiful post. Thank you, Shawna, for helping me start this beautiful, sunny, Québec November day off! May you have a lovely one.

  4. I love that Woolf line too....thanks, Lynn. I bet it's gorgeous in Quêbec this fall.


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