As though it had always been forbidden to remember
each of us grew up
knowing nothing about the beginning
but in time there came from that forgetting
names representing a truth of their own
and we went on repeating them
until they too began not to be remembered
they became part of the forgetting
later came stories like the days themselves
there seemed to be no end to them
and we told what we could remember of them
though we always forgot where they came from
and forgot that it was forbidden
and whether it had been forbidden
but from forgotten pain we recognize
sometimes the truth when it is told to us
and from forgotten happiness we know
that the day we wake to is our own
— W.S. Merwin, from his newest book Garden Time (Copper Canyon Press, 2016). Copyright © 2016 by W. S. Merwin. Used by permission of the publishers, www.coppercanyonpress.org.
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Augusta Vesecky says
Aren’t we all forever remembering and forgetting? As though our poor brains cannot hold our lives from day to day–and yet our poor souls yearn to recapture the forgotten joy. Merwin has said it perfectly in this poem!