New York City–born poet William Stanley Merwin has written more than thirty books of poetry, translation, and prose. A Buddhist and environmentalist, he often addresses humankind’s separation from nature in his work. His writing has received two Pulitzer Prizes and a National Book Award, and in 2010, at the age of eighty-two, Merwin was appointed the Library of Congress’s Poet Laureate. Since the late 1970s he has lived in Hawaii on a former pineapple plantation that he has restored to its original rain-forest state. “Thanks” was first published in The Rain in the Trees by W.S. Merwin, copyright © 1988 by W.S. Merwin. Used by permission of Alfred A. Knopf, a division of Random House, Inc.
Listen with the night falling we are saying thank you we are stopping on the bridges to bow from the railings we are running out of the glass rooms with our mouths full of food to look at the sky and say thank you we are standing by the water thanking it standing by the windows looking out in our directions back from a series of hospitals back from a mugging after funerals we are saying thank you after the news of the dead whether or not we knew them we are saying thank you over telephones we are saying thank you in doorways and in the backs of cars and in elevators remembering wars and the police at the door and the beatings on stairs we are saying thank you in the banks we are saying thank you in the faces of the officials and the rich and of all who will never change we go on saying thank you thank you with the animals dying around us taking our feelings we are saying thank you with the forests falling faster than the minutes of our lives we are saying thank you with the words going out like cells of a brain with the cities growing over us we are saying thank you faster and faster with nobody listening we are saying thank you we are saying thank you and waving dark though it is