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The Poet’s View — W. S. Merwin

When to see Ezra Pound when I was 18 when I was in college. He was in St Elizabeths Hospital which was the way his defense lawyers saved him from being shot for prison the things he said during world war 2. The plea of insanity they said that he was crazy he probably was gone crazy. I knew nothing about his politics fortunately and he, to my amazement now took me seriously as a Pound. This is a young man who say’s he was to be a Pound He accepted that. And he said if you want to be a Pound you have to take it seriously. You have to work on it the way you work on anything else and you have to do it every day. He said, you should write about 75 lines in a day. You know, how was great one for laying down. how you did anything. And he said, “Listen,you don’t have anything to write 75 lines about a day you say you you don’t really have anything to write about.” He said, “at the ages of 18 you think you can do but you don’t.” And he said “the way to do it is to learn a language and translation it.” And he said, “that way you can practice and you can find out what you can do with the language with your language”. He said “You can learn a foreign language the translation is your way of learning your own language.”

I love the city but I also love the country and I realize this when I’m in the city, I miss the country all the time. When I’m in the country, I miss the city some of the time. So what I do now was live in a country then go to the city some of the time. But, I can’t imagine living in the country without being part of it. Without growing things, without doing something.

Writing poetry has “to me”, always had something to do how you want to live and I guess I have done something that a lot of my contemporaries didn’t do, many of them wanted a universities and had academic careers and I have nothing against that. I mean, I don’t preach against that say what a terrible thing. I think its a fine thing if that’s what you’re made for but I didn’t think I was made for. I begin after about a week in a university and I begin to feel the oxygen is going out in the area very past. And you know I have to go somewhere else.

This is a poem that I wrote in the early 80’s shortly after I met Paula my wife. It’s called “Late spring”.

Coming into the high room again after years after oceans and shadows of hills and the sounds after losses and feet on stairs. After looking mistakes and forgetting turning their thinking to find no one except those I knew finally I saw you sitting in white already waiting. You of whom I heard with my own ears since the beginning for home more than once I had opened the door believing you were not far.