Sit down inside W.S. Merwin’s hand-built garden dojo. Immerse yourself in the sounds of his palm forest, deep in the Pe‘ahi Stream valley, on Maui’s rugged and rural north coast.
NOTE: Please make sure your sound is turned on. Click the bottom right corner of the video to enlarge.
Sayler / Morris
Threshold (Meditation Edit for The Merwin Conservancy), 2020
This new edit of Threshold is a meditative video created by artist duo Susannah Sayler and Edward Morris (Sayler / Morris and The Canary Project), in collaboration with The Merwin Conservancy, as an offering of sanctuary in a time of crisis. The filmmakers wish to thank W.S. Merwin and Paula Merwin for generously welcoming them to film at their home in 2016.
Threshold was originally part of a site-specific installation in collaboration with Ian Boyden titled Palm: All Awake in the Darkness that was commissioned by American Writers Museum in Chicago with support from the Poetry Foundation. The video was shot entirely in and around a small room that the poet W.S. Merwin built for meditation. This room sits in the middle of a palm garden that Merwin and his wife Paula grew on a wasteland left by colonial plantations on Maui. Tree-by-tree, they transformed the land into what Merwin called a “garden that aspires to be a forest.” The title of the video is taken from one of Merwin’s poems in which he writes, “what did I have to do with anything I could remember / all I did not know went on beginning around me…”
Concept, direction and editing: Susannah Sayler and Edward Morris (Sayler / Morris)
Sound design: Matthew Patterson Curry and Sayler / Morris
Videography: Sayler / Morris
Additional videography: Lauren Harper
Color correction and additional editing: Andrew Rice
Produced by Sara Tekula for the Merwin Conservancy
Creative Commons License: CC BY-NC-ND 4.0
“The Sitting Room” has been featured in The New York Times, The Washington Post, BOMB Magazine, among other national media organizations.
Bonita Geary says
This is amazingly wonderful and peaceful! I would love to visit, but I am disabled, and I’m not sure I could last through the walk. Maui is one of my favorite places, and the north of the island is quickly becoming a peaceful place to visit! I am so lucky I was able to go last February, before COVID. I found the gardens after watching a show on Mr. Mersin on PBS. What a delight!
Jeanne Malmgren says
How lovely! Thank you, with a deep bow. I will share this with my meditation sangha.
Sally RD says
Thank you for making this available. I’ve been listening to the sounds of the birds, wind and rain, and am manifesting safety and healthy life for the Islands of Hawaii.
Marie Myers Lloyd says
Barbara J Edelman says
Beautiful experience–thank you!
Jim Gallarda says
I’ve just read WS Merwin’s “Garden Time” and was led to this meditation room as I held his spirit in my heart. Lovely. Thank you! Though not his work, I think Merwin would be pleased with Richard Wagner’ Poem, “Lost”:
Stand still. The trees ahead and bushes beside you
Are not lost. Wherever you are is called Here,
And you must treat it as a powerful stranger,
Must ask permission to know it and be known.
The forest breathes. Listen. It answers,
I have made this place around you.
If you leave it, you may come back again, saying Here.
No two trees are the same to Raven.
No two branches are the same to Wren.
If what a tree or a bush does is lost on you,
You are surely lost. Stand still. The forest knows
Where you are. You must let it find you.
Beautiful… but it is by David Wagner, not Richard…
Bob Vance says
Very fine. Thank you!
Malachy Grange says
The Forest breathes out and we breathe in.
What a blessing for this poem
For these branches and bushes
And all these birds. Listen……
Scott Waters says
When I’d visit William, it had to be after noon, when he was Pau writing, and I had to bring my border collie Ulu, to play with his chow. A few times we had to go find him in the trees. I’ll always love that place.