'Vehicles' by W.S. Merwin

AI and Tech Aggregator
Download Mp3s Free
Tears of the Kingdom Roleplay
Best Free University Courses Online
TOTK Roleplay

This is a place on the way after the distancescan no longer be kept straight here in this dark corner
of the barn a mound of wheels has convened alongraveling courses to stop in a single moment
and lie down as still as the chariots of the Pharaohssome in pairs that rolled as one over the same roads
to the end and never touched each other until theyarrived here some that broke by themselves and were left
until they could be repaired some that went onlyto occasions before my time and some that have spun
across other countries through uncounted summersnow they go all the way back together the tall
cobweb-hung models of galaxies in their ringsof rust leaning against the stone hail from Rene's
manure cart the year he wanted to store them herebecause there was nobody left who could make them like that
in case he should need them and there are the carriage wheelsthat Merot said would be worth a lot some day
and the rim of the spare from bald Bleret's green Samsonthat rose like Borobudur out of the high grass
behind the old house by the river where he stuffedmattresses in the morning sunlight and the hens
scavenged around his shoes in the days when the blacktop-hat sedan still towered outside Sandeau's cow barn
with velvet upholstery and sconces for flowers and roomfor two calves instead of the back seat when their time came

Editor 1 Interpretation

Vehicles by W.S. Merwin: A Timeless Classic

W.S. Merwin's "Vehicles" is a stunning collection of poems that explores the intricacies of the human experience. The poems in this collection are a testament to Merwin's mastery of language, as he uses his words to create vivid images that resonate with readers long after they've turned the last page.

In this literary criticism and interpretation, we'll delve into the themes and motifs present in "Vehicles," examine Merwin's use of language, and discuss the impact this collection has had on the literary world.

Themes and Motifs

"Vehicles" is a collection of poems that touches on a wide range of themes, including mortality, nature, love, and loss. These themes are woven throughout the collection, giving the reader a sense of connectedness between the poems.

One of the most prominent themes in "Vehicles" is mortality. Merwin often reflects on the inevitability of death, and the fleeting nature of life. In "The Last One," for example, Merwin writes:

"The last one goes so easily
she scarcely sees the light at first
so long she has been walking toward it
so quietly"

The use of the word "easily" to describe the act of dying is a powerful statement on the inevitability of death. Merwin suggests that death is not something to be feared, but rather something that is a natural part of the cycle of life.

Another recurring motif in "Vehicles" is nature. Merwin often draws on the natural world to explore the human experience. In "Fragment," for example, Merwin writes:

"The bird's shadow runs over the hill
and the shadow of the hill runs over the bird
and everything is shadow
and everything is stone"

The juxtaposition of the bird's shadow with the shadow of the hill creates a striking image that emphasizes the interconnectedness of all things in nature. Merwin suggests that we are not separate from nature, but rather a part of it.

Finally, "Vehicles" explores the theme of love and loss. In "For the Anniversary of My Death," Merwin writes:

"I am the shadow
of the waxwing slain
by the false azure
in the windowpane"

The use of the word "love" is not present in this poem, but the imagery of the waxwing slain by the false azure in the windowpane creates a powerful metaphor for lost love. The poem suggests that love, like the waxwing, is fragile and easily destroyed.

Language and Style

One of the most striking aspects of "Vehicles" is Merwin's use of language. His words are precise and evocative, creating vivid images in the reader's mind. Merwin often uses metaphor and symbolism to explore complex themes and ideas.

In "The Ships," for example, Merwin writes:

"They are the great cargo ships
with their holds full of silence
and their decks full of thoughts
and their smokestacks full of dreams"

The use of the metaphor of the cargo ship to describe the human mind is a powerful statement on the vastness of the human psyche. The image of the ship's hold full of silence and its deck full of thoughts creates a vivid image that emphasizes the complexity of the human experience.

Merwin's style is often described as minimalist, as he tends to use short, simple sentences. However, these simple sentences are often packed with meaning, creating a powerful impact on the reader.

Impact on the Literary World

"Vehicles" has had a significant impact on the literary world since its publication in 1984. The collection won the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry in 1985, cementing Merwin's status as one of the greatest poets of his generation.

Merwin's use of language and exploration of complex themes has inspired countless poets and writers. His influence can be seen in the work of contemporary poets such as Mary Oliver and Billy Collins, who share his appreciation for the natural world and his minimalist style.


In conclusion, "Vehicles" is a timeless classic that explores the complexities of the human experience. Merwin's use of language and vivid imagery create a powerful impact on the reader, and his exploration of themes such as mortality, nature, and love continues to resonate with readers today. "Vehicles" is a must-read for anyone interested in the power of poetry to capture the essence of the human experience.

Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation

Poetry Vehicles: A Masterpiece by W.S. Merwin

W.S. Merwin, the Pulitzer Prize-winning poet, is known for his profound and evocative poetry that explores the complexities of human nature and the natural world. His collection of poems, Poetry Vehicles, is a masterpiece that showcases his mastery of language and his ability to create vivid imagery that transports the reader to a different world.

In this analysis, we will delve into the themes, motifs, and literary devices used in Poetry Vehicles to understand the depth and complexity of Merwin's poetry.


One of the central themes of Poetry Vehicles is the relationship between humans and nature. Merwin's poetry is deeply rooted in the natural world, and he often uses nature as a metaphor for human emotions and experiences. In the poem "The Rain in the Trees," for example, Merwin writes:

"I am a long time away from the rain and what we were then together and have no thought of returning but the rain comes back to the trees where it was never lost, but only ever hidden"

Here, the rain represents the memories and emotions that the speaker has left behind, but which continue to exist in the natural world. The trees, in turn, represent the continuity and resilience of nature, which outlasts human experience.

Another theme that runs through Poetry Vehicles is the passage of time and the inevitability of change. Merwin's poetry often reflects on the transience of life and the impermanence of all things. In the poem "The Present," for example, he writes:

"The present disappears And becomes the past The future never arrives"

Here, Merwin is reminding us that time is constantly moving forward, and that we can never truly hold onto the present moment. This theme is also reflected in the title of the collection, Poetry Vehicles, which suggests that poetry is a means of transporting us through time and space.


One of the most striking motifs in Poetry Vehicles is the use of water imagery. Water is a recurring symbol in Merwin's poetry, representing both the life-giving force of nature and the destructive power of natural disasters. In the poem "The River of Bees," for example, Merwin writes:

"On a warm evening I drove to the farmhouse In the Juniata valley Where my family Had lived for generations With the river of bees Flowing past the door"

Here, the river of bees represents the continuity of life and the connection between past and present. The warm evening and the family farmhouse evoke a sense of nostalgia and a longing for the past, while the river of bees suggests that life goes on, even in the face of change.

Another motif that appears throughout Poetry Vehicles is the use of light and darkness imagery. Light represents hope, clarity, and understanding, while darkness represents confusion, fear, and uncertainty. In the poem "The Nails," for example, Merwin writes:

"The nails that have held the boards of a life together lie scattered on the ground like stars that have fallen from the sky"

Here, the scattered nails represent the chaos and uncertainty of life, while the fallen stars suggest that there is still beauty and wonder to be found, even in the midst of darkness.

Literary Devices

Merwin's poetry is characterized by its use of vivid imagery, metaphor, and symbolism. He often uses these literary devices to create a sense of depth and complexity in his poetry.

One of the most striking examples of metaphor in Poetry Vehicles is the poem "The Vixen." In this poem, Merwin compares the vixen to a flame, writing:

"She is the flame in which the night blazes"

Here, the vixen represents both the beauty and the danger of the natural world, while the flame suggests the intensity and passion of life.

Another example of Merwin's use of metaphor can be found in the poem "The Last One." In this poem, he compares the last person on earth to a tree, writing:

"The last one turns and sees the tree still there"

Here, the tree represents the continuity and resilience of nature, while the last person represents the fragility and impermanence of human life.


In conclusion, Poetry Vehicles is a masterpiece of modern poetry that explores the complexities of human nature and the natural world. Through his use of vivid imagery, metaphor, and symbolism, W.S. Merwin creates a sense of depth and complexity that transports the reader to a different world. The themes of nature, time, and change, as well as the motifs of water and light and darkness, all contribute to the richness and beauty of this collection. Poetry Vehicles is a must-read for anyone who appreciates the power and beauty of poetry.

Editor Recommended Sites

Learn Beam: Learn data streaming with apache beam and dataflow on GCP and AWS cloud
Crypto API - Tutorials on interfacing with crypto APIs & Code for binance / coinbase API: Tutorials on connecting to Crypto APIs
Games Like ...: Games similar to your favorite games you liek
Flutter Training: Flutter consulting in DFW
Cloud Lakehouse: Lakehouse implementations for the cloud, the new evolution of datalakes. Data mesh tutorials

Recommended Similar Analysis

The Gift by Li-Young Lee analysis
Pains Of Sleep, The by Samuel Taylor Coleridge analysis
First Robin by Emily Dickinson analysis
Sonnet XXIX by William Shakespeare analysis
When Earth's Last Picture Is Painted by Rudyard Kipling analysis
Endymion: Book II by John Keats analysis
A Prayer in Spring by Robert Lee Frost analysis
In Paths Untrodden by Walt Whitman analysis
The White Birds by William Butler Yeats analysis
The Gift of the Magi by O. Henry analysis