On the last day of the world
I would want to plant a tree
– W.S. Merwin
Video clip from "Threshold" by Sayler/Morris
Remembering William Stanley Merwin (1927 – 2019)
Few writers in the American literary canon are connected as closely to place as W.S. Merwin is to his garden of palms on the island of Maui. Much like Henry David Thoreau at Walden Pond or Rachel Carson at her Cottage at the Edge of the Sea, two-time Pulitzer prize winning poet W.S. Merwin is indelibly tied to the valley that spoke to him for over four decades.
It is with great sadness that we said goodbye to William on March 15th. He leaves us all inspired to make the world around us a better place through word and deed, and to honor and conserve the natural world.
We inspire innovation in the arts and sciences by advancing the ideas of W.S. Merwin – his life, work, house and palm forest – as fearless and graceful examples of the power of imagination and renewal.
William Stanley Merwin
(1927 – 2019)
Paula Dunaway Merwin
In 2010, William and Paula Merwin established The Merwin Conservancy to preserve and share the home and garden they made together on Maui. For over forty years, learning from the land as they went, the Merwins transformed a damaged landscape into a lush and rare palm garden. It is now one of the most important assemblages of palms in the world, and a singular place of stillness, wonder, and inspiration.
What We Do
The Merwins' 19-acre palm garden, protected by a Deed of Conservation Easement held by the Hawaiian Islands Land Trust, is the heart of all that we do. Through our programs, in the garden and beyond, we nurture a sense of wonder. We serve as custodians charged with the well-being of this place. We unite in our work what was united in W.S. Merwin.
The Green RoomFostering a reverence for language, imagination, and nature through a series of arts and ecology salons in Hawai‘i
Open Garden DaysImmersing visitors in W.S. Merwin's garden through multisensory experiences with nature and poetry
Teaching FellowshipsPartnering with Hawai‘i teachers to develop greater creativity and imagination in classrooms across the state
School VisitsAwakening students to the wonders of nature, the power of place and poetry, and the impact of stewardship
Artists in the GardenOffering the garden as a site of stillness and creative conversation with the land
ResidenciesNurturing the work of thinkers and makers
Putting Life Back Into the World
"In gardening, as my wife and I go about it here, what are called concerns–for ecology and the environment, for example–merge inevitably with work done every day, within sight of the house, with our own hands, and the concerns remain intimate and familiar rather than far away. They do not have to be thought about, they are at home in the mind. I have never lived anywhere that was more true."
— W.S. Merwin