The Merwin Conservancy on Maui

W. S. Merwin

Founded in 2010, The Merwin Conservancy on Maui preserves the home, literary legacy and native palm trees of W. S. Merwin. On a cold night in Massachusetts, with snow piled way over our heads, it’s good to ponder all this.

Here’s a poem Native Trees by W. S. Merwin.

Sometimes the world opens up to a child in a way that it had not or could not to her parents. There might be grief and resentment in reflection on this fact, but there need not be. It should be a goal and a hope of the parent that the child would keep pace in a changing world, accept new work, explore new fields of knowledge and find new ways of life. One of the pleasures of my life has been to watch my boys learn important things from other people, things that will remain beyond my understanding as long as I live.

Native Trees 

Neither my father nor my mother knew
the names of the trees
where I was born
what is that
I asked and my
father and mother did not
hear they did not look where I pointed
surfaces of furniture held
the attention of their fingers
and across the room they could watch
walls they had forgotten
here there were no questions
no voices and no shade

Were there trees
where they were children
where I had not been
I asked
were there trees in those places
where my father and my mother were born
and in that time did
my father and my mother see them
and when they said yes it meant
they did not remember
What were they I asked what were they
but both my father and my mother
said they never knew
Rain in the Trees Cover

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