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Green Fields Analysis

Author: poem of W.S. Merwin Type: poem Views: 3

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By this part of the century few are left who believe

    in the animals for they are not there in the carved parts

of them served on plates and the pleas from the slatted trucks

    are sounds of shadows that possess no future

there is still game for the pleasure of killing

    and there are pets for the children but the lives that followed

courses of their own other than ours and older

    have been migrating before us some are already

far on the way and yet Peter with his gaunt cheeks

    and point of white beard the face of an aged Lawrence

Peter who had lived on from another time and country

    and who had seen so many things set out and vanish

still believed in heaven and said he had never once

    doubted it since his childhood on the farm in the days

of the horses he had not doubted it in the worst

    times of the Great War and afterward and he had come

to what he took to be a kind of earthly

    model of it as he wandered south in his sixties

by that time speaking the language well enough

    for them to make him out he took the smallest roads

into a world he thought was a thing of the past

    with wildflowers he scarcely remembered and neighbors

working together scything the morning meadows

    turning the hay before the noon meal bringing it in

by milking time husbandry and abundance

    all the virtues he admired and their reward bounteous

in the eyes of a foreigner and there he remained

    for the rest of his days seeing what he wanted to see

until the winter when he could no longer fork

    the earth in his garden and then he gave away

his house land everything and committed himself

    to a home to die in an old chateau where he lingered

for some time surrounded by those who had lost

    the use of body or mind and as he lay there he told me

that the wall by his bed opened almost every day

    and he saw what was really there and it was eternal life

as he recognized at once when he saw the gardens

    he had made and the green fields where he had been

a child and his mother was standing there then the wall would close

    and around him again were the last days of the world


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