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Separation -- W S Merwin

       
(Poem #1107) Separation
 Your absence has gone through me
 Like thread through a needle.
 Everything I do is stitched with its color.
-- W S Merwin
A startling, compelling poem - note the inversion of the usual 'your absence
has left a hole in me' imagery. The idea of a 'positive' absence is unusual,
but it has a definite *rightness* to it, which Merwin captures brilliantly in
his metaphor.

This is one of those poems about which one could quibble endlessly, wondering
what exactly makes it a 'poem'. That's a thorny enough area, though, that to
hack through it would divert attention from the poem itself, and thereby miss
the point entirely. Personally, I'd rather just appreciate it.

martin

Links:
 Biography of Merwin:
  [broken link] http://www.poets.org/poets/poets.cfm?prmID=124&CFID=12932983&CFTOKEN=88743333

 Today's poem is very reminiscent of Atwood - see, for instance, Poem #1093

97 comments: ( or Leave a comment )

julie at seacoast said...

I have loved this poem for many years - I first came across it in a delightful anthology called "Half Serious" edited by William Cole. It seems to me to be a perfect poem on separation. It goes to the heart and yet is taut and exact. Maybe it is that restraint which makes it so compelling.

vivian eden said...

I love this too. Super for showing how a good simile works. Shouldn't that
be "stitched"?

Best,
Vivian

Nelson Bonnie said...

I just found this site and really like this poem. The poet as a needle--an instrument that is only useful when it is threaded. SO, this seems to be about the Absence as a oh, a motivator for useful action, the inspiration for the poet. This seems to be a tribute to the Absent one who adds real color to everything the poet does. Also, sewing seems to be a universally productive, useful thing--stitch in time, etc. Is this poem about what inspires a poet to write poems?

Luker Oliver (CORP) said...

while we're talking about atwood with relationship to 'Separation' the poem
that it immediately reminded me of was as below ... a direct correlation for
me with the image of the needle, additionally both poems have almost the
same form.

You Fit into Me - Atwood
you fit into me
like a hook into an eye
a fish hook
an open eye

Shailja Sharma said...

Its a beautiful poem , simple and unpretentious.
I have seen poets use heavy orante poetry to describe separation, but this one is unique. Also i like this poem , for even though it talks about separation, it still is about being together ("Everything I do is stiched with its color.").
Great work!

Sunshine
Me

Roger Moffatt said...

Saw this on the london underground today and it described perfectly how I feel.
Less truely is more when it comes to this poem.
Marvellous.

pcoulagi said...

I read this poem years ago while still at college. I'm fascinated with
idea of someone's absence adding to and so changing everything the poet
does.

To me it also seemed that the absence was so powerful that the poet could
only express it in the simplest and most restrained language. There is
such a strong undercurrent of longing and passion to this poem!

Priya

Alex at peace said...

Truly inspired.

Anonymous said...

this poem pulls tears from my eyes instantly. my love left me and merwin speaks for my soul

MyVie® said...

For me, this poem explains exactly how I've felt since my son was murdered a little more than a year ago. The color of my thread is gray...some days black....but it continues to be woven into the brighter colors, i.e., those that represent living children and my granddaughter who give my life reason.

Viagra Online said...

this poem remind when my parents has divorced, my little sisters was so sad, my older brother and me as the oldest brothers we take the command of our house, economically of course.

Daniel Dietz said...

This poem was on mass transit (busses, trains) in Portland, OR, for a few years. Stays with me.

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