The Poetry Remains

Poems fill my in-box. I get a poem-a-day every day, thanks to the Academy of American Poets; Jane Yolen, one of the today’s most dedicated writers, sends me one of her daily poems (I subscribe), and I have written about my last year’s resolution to memorize at least one poem a month here. Poetry lights my life.

Yesterday my husband shared a random survey query: name a book that changed your life and tell why/how. This is not a novel prompt, by any means, and as I thought about it, I realized that I could make a cool graphic—a visually data-rich time line—of writing that has affected me throughout my life. (In fact, I may just do it as a creative exercise, lots of writing there!) My very first influencer would have to be The Bumper Book by Watty Piper, published first in 1946. There Robert Louis Stevenson and I became best friends. Winken, Blynken, Nod and I fell asleep together, Edward Lear’s far-fetched chorus in the background. My love of verse awakened early and has never waned.

On March 21, Yolen’s poem begins: “They are going from us/Hall, Oliver, Merwin/ Those strophic breaths stilled…Yet the poetry remains/…They have left the best of themselves behind.” I am certain that the death of former poet W.S. Merwin on March 15, 2019, completing the magic three of “vatic voices” we have lost this year, impelled her. I have written about Hall here and my love of Mary Oliver shows here, the inside cover of my current writer’s notebook:


Today before March ends and National Poetry Month begins, I have used Jane Hirshfield’s lovely “Remembering W.S. Merwin” to create a found poem, a craft I used to practice with students and am missing as well:

William’s Zendo

a hand-made clay water pitcher

as if teaching might be poured from it

two small Buddha figures

a few incense bowls

a low block, rough-cut

wood as altar

thirst addressed

with rain and a poet’s concentration

whenever needed.

What came from William’s eyes:

the world’s wonder

just outweighing its suffering

the poems hold all

a waiting water pitcher


and open.

—thanks to Jane Hirshfield


4 thoughts on “The Poetry Remains”

  1. I always loved found poetry because no two people come up with the same poem given the same text. People pick what is important to them and what stands out in their minds making each found poem as unique as the text from which it came.

    1. I’ve never had much success even though my students are naturals. Today, though, I found the poem within the longer text; I’m satisfied. Thanks for being a faithful reader and responder!

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