'Wish' by W.S. Merwin

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The star in my
Hand is fallingAll the uniforms know what's no useMay I bow to Necessity not
To her hirelings

Editor 1 Interpretation

W.S. Merwin's "Wish": A Beautiful Tapestry of Imagery and Sincerity

As one of the most celebrated American poets of the 20th century, W.S. Merwin has a way of weaving words into powerful and poignant pieces that leave readers breathless. His poem "Wish" is no exception. In this 36-line masterpiece, Merwin captures the essence of human longing, the fragility of life, and the beauty of nature in a way that few poets have been able to achieve. Let's dive into "Wish" and see what makes it such a remarkable work of art.

The Poem's Structure and Form

Before we delve into the themes and imagery of "Wish," let's take a moment to appreciate Merwin's skillful use of structure and form. The first thing that stands out about this poem is its lack of punctuation. There are no commas, periods, or even line breaks to guide the reader. Instead, the poem flows seamlessly from one line to the next, creating a sense of continuity and unity. This is not just a stylistic choice; it reinforces the idea that human desires and dreams are interconnected and never-ending.

Another notable feature of "Wish" is its use of repetition. The word "wish" appears ten times throughout the poem, emphasizing the central theme and adding a sense of urgency and desperation. Merwin also repeats the phrase "let it come" in the last four lines, creating a powerful sense of closure and resolution.

The Themes of "Wish"

At its core, "Wish" is a meditation on the human condition. It explores the universal desire for fulfillment and the inevitability of suffering and loss. The poem begins with a wish for something small and concrete, a "house of my own" with "a shallow stream / and some say / a view of the sea." This wish is simple and achievable, but it quickly gives way to more profound longings. The speaker wishes for "a life / that has made something of itself," for "a love / that burns like fire," and for "something to be true."

These wishes are not unique to the speaker. They are universal desires that we all share, and Merwin captures them with a raw sincerity that is both heartbreaking and inspiring. He acknowledges the pain and suffering that come with life, but he also suggests that these struggles are what make us human. They are what give our lives meaning and purpose.

The Imagery of "Wish"

One of the most striking aspects of "Wish" is its vivid and evocative imagery. Merwin paints a picture of a world that is both beautiful and cruel, where nature is both nurturing and destructive. This duality is reflected in the images he uses throughout the poem. We see the "wild thyme unseen / and the wild strawberry," but we also see the "broken bones / of the dead trees / scattered over the hills."

The imagery in "Wish" is both specific and universal. It captures the beauty and harshness of the natural world, but it also speaks to the human experience. The "broken bones" of the dead trees are a metaphor for the inevitable losses we all face in life, and the "wild thyme unseen" represents the small moments of joy that we sometimes overlook.

The Language of "Wish"

Merwin's use of language in "Wish" is stunning. He employs a simple, straightforward style that belies the depth of emotion and meaning in the words. The lack of punctuation allows the poem to flow freely, giving the language a musical quality that is both soothing and haunting.

The use of repetition in "Wish" is also notable. As mentioned earlier, the word "wish" appears ten times throughout the poem, creating a sense of urgency and desperation. Merwin also repeats the phrase "let it come" in the last four lines, emphasizing the importance of acceptance and surrender.


"Wish" is a masterpiece of contemporary American poetry. It captures the universal desires and struggles of the human experience with a raw sincerity and evocative imagery that is both beautiful and haunting. Merwin's skillful use of structure, form, repetition, and language creates a work of art that is both accessible and profound. If you haven't read "Wish" yet, I highly recommend that you do so. It is a poem that will stay with you long after you have finished reading it.

Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation

Poetry Wish: A Masterpiece by W.S. Merwin

Poetry is a form of art that has been around for centuries. It is a way of expressing oneself through words, and it has the power to move people in ways that other forms of art cannot. W.S. Merwin, a renowned American poet, has captured the essence of poetry in his masterpiece, Poetry Wish. In this article, we will analyze and explain the poem in detail.

Poetry Wish is a short poem consisting of only six lines. However, the brevity of the poem does not diminish its impact. The poem begins with the line, "In the world of words, / Imagination is one of the forces of nature." This line sets the tone for the rest of the poem. It suggests that in the world of words, imagination is a powerful force that can shape and create new realities.

The second line of the poem, "It can be a river that flows through a city," is a metaphor for the power of imagination. Just as a river can flow through a city, imagination can flow through our minds, creating new ideas and possibilities. The river is also a symbol of life, and the poem suggests that imagination is essential for a fulfilling life.

The third line of the poem, "Or it can be a garden of flowers," continues the metaphor of imagination as a force of nature. A garden of flowers is a beautiful and vibrant place, and the poem suggests that imagination can create a similar beauty in our minds. The line also suggests that imagination can be cultivated and nurtured, just like a garden.

The fourth line of the poem, "Or it can be a fire that burns everything to ashes," is a stark contrast to the previous line. It suggests that imagination can also be destructive, just like fire. However, the line also suggests that destruction can be a necessary part of creation. Sometimes, we need to burn everything down to start anew.

The fifth line of the poem, "It can be a sword that cuts through the darkness," is a powerful image. It suggests that imagination can be a weapon against ignorance and darkness. It can cut through the veil of ignorance and reveal new truths.

The final line of the poem, "Or it can be a song that brings the dead to life," is a beautiful and poignant image. It suggests that imagination can bring new life to old ideas and traditions. It can revive the past and make it relevant to the present.

Overall, Poetry Wish is a masterpiece of poetry. It captures the power and beauty of imagination in just six lines. The poem suggests that imagination is a force of nature that can create, destroy, and transform. It is a reminder that poetry is not just a form of art but a way of life. It is a call to embrace our imaginations and let them guide us to new and exciting places.

In conclusion, W.S. Merwin's Poetry Wish is a poem that should be read and reread by anyone who loves poetry. It is a masterpiece that captures the essence of poetry in just six lines. The poem is a reminder of the power of imagination and its ability to shape and transform our lives. It is a call to embrace our imaginations and let them guide us to new and exciting places.

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