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The Source Analysis

Author: Poetry of W.S. Merwin Type: Poetry Views: 110

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There in the fringe of trees between

the upper field and the edge of the one

below it that runs above the valley

one time I heard in the early

days of summer the clear ringing

six notes that I knew were the opening

of the Fingal's Cave Overture

I heard them again and again that year

and the next summer and the year

afterward those six descending

notes the same for all the changing

in my own life since the last time

I had heard them fall past me from

the bright air in the morning of a bird

and I believed that what I had heard

would always be there if I came again

to be overtaken by that season

in that place after the winter

and I would wonder again whether

Mendelssohn really had heard them somewhere

far to the north that many years ago

looking up from his youth to listen to

those six notes of an ancestor

spilling over from a presence neither

water nor human that led to the cave

in his mind the fluted cliffs and the wave

going out and the falling water

he thought those notes could be the music for

Mendelssohn is gone and Fingal is gone

all but his name for a cave and for one

piece of music and the black-capped warbler

as we called that bird that I remember

singing there those notes descending

from the age of the ice dripping

I have not heard again this year can it

be gone then will I not hear it

from now on will the overture begin

for a time and all those who listen

feel that falling in them but as always

without knowing what they recognize


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