Deborah Hauser

Self inflicted Gaunt spare laid bare

To the New Year







To the New Year by W. S. Merwin

With what stillness at last

you appear in the valley

your first sunlight reaching down

to touch the tips of a few

high leaves that do not stir

as though they had not noticed

and did not know you at all

then the voice of a dove calls

from far away in itself

to the hush of the morning


so this is the sound of you

here and now whether or not

anyone hears it this is

where we have come with our age

our knowledge such as it is

and our hopes such as they are

invisible before us

untouched and still possible


Merwin personifies the new year and addresses it as “you” as if it were a person. The images of “first sunlight” and “morning” call to mind new beginnings and fresh starts. It is a hopeful poem in which anything is “still possible.” The complete lack of punctuation, even at the end of the poem, creates an open form that emphasizes the intangible potential that rises with the new year.

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