Beaver Enclosure: Underwater Viewing: poem by W.S. Merwin
and I ask him again
the name for the color of water
wanting to be able to say it
as though I had known it all my life
without giving it a thought
— W.S. Merwin (Maui, 1927-)
(from the poem “Hearing the Names of the Valleys”)
William Stanley Merwin was born in New York City on September 30, 1927. He was raised in Union City, New Jersey and Scranton, Pennsylvania, as the son of a Presbyterian minister, and began writing hymns as a child. He is a former Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets and has served as Poetry Consultant to the Library of Congress.
He served as Poet Laureate of the United States from 2010 to 2011. Over the course of his long career, Merwin has published over twenty books of poetry. He has also published nearly twenty books of translation; a memoir of his childhood; and The Lost Upland (Alfred A. Knopf, 1992), his memoir of life in the south of France. He currently lives and works in Hawaii.