Weekly Poem: ‘The Nomad Flute’


The Nomad Flute
by W.S. Merwin

You that sang to me once sing to me now
let me hear your long lifted note
survive with me
the star is fading
I can think farther than that but I forget
do you hear me

do you still hear me
does your air
remember you
oh breath of morning
night song morning song
I have with me
all that I do not know
I have lost none of it

but I know better now
than to ask you
where you learned that music
where any of it came from
once there were lions in China

I will listen until the flute stops
and the light is old again


As one of the country’s leading poets for decades and author of more than 50 books of verse, translation and prose, W.S. Merwin has won just about every major award available, from his first volume in 1952, “A Mask for Janus,” which was selected for the Yale Series of Younger Poets to his most recent in 2009, “The Shadow of Sirius,” which earned him his second Pulitzer Prize.
Watch his recent conversation with Jeffrey Brown here.