William Stanley Merwin

(September 30, 1927 / New York / United States)

My Friends

Poem by William Stanley Merwin

My friends without shields walk on the target

It is late the windows are breaking

My friends without shoes leave
What they love
Grief moves among them as a fire among
Its bells
My friends without clocks turn
On the dial they turn
They part

My friends with names like gloves set out
Bare handed as they have lived
And nobody knows them
It is they that lay the wreaths at the milestones it is their
Cups that are found at the wells
And are then chained up

My friends without feet sit by the wall
Nodding to the lame orchestra
Brotherhood it says on the decorations
My friend without eyes sits in the rain smiling
With a nest of salt in his hand

My friends without fathers or houses hear
Doors opening in the darkness
Whose halls announce

Behold the smoke has come home

My friends and I have in common
The present a wax bell in a wax belfry
This message telling of
Metals this
Hunger for the sake of hunger this owl in the heart
And these hands one
For asking one for applause

My friends with nothing leave it behind
In a box
My friends without keys go out from the jails it is night
They take the same road they miss
Each other they invent the same banner in the dark
They ask their way only of sentries too proud to breathe

At dawn the stars on their flag will vanish

The water will turn up their footprints and the day will rise
Like a monument to my
Friends the forgotten


Comments about My Friends by William Stanley Merwin

  • Michael WalkerMichael Walker (9/19/2019 10:12:00 PM)

    I like particularly repetition of 'my friends', who have undergone various misfortunes.
    'My friends with nothing'.(Report)Reply

    0 person liked.
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  • Bharati NayakBharati Nayak (10/1/2016 7:12:00 PM)

    At dawn the stars on their flag will vanish

    The water will turn up their footprints and the day will rise
    Like a monument to my
    Friends the forgotten
    - - - - - - - - - - - -Perhaps the poet gives tribute to forgotten heroes of a war who lost every thing, legs, eyes or lives for the country or people.Now they are forgotten, but time will one day tell their stories.(Report)Reply

    0 person liked.
    1 person did not like.
  • Michael WalkerMichael Walker (10/1/2016 4:55:00 PM)

    A different consideration of what kind of friends you
    can have. M.Walker.(Report)Reply

    2 person liked.
    0 person did not like.
  • Mizzy ........Mizzy ........ (10/1/2016 3:09:00 PM)

    Very heartfelt dedication......great write!(Report)Reply

    1 person liked.
    1 person did not like.
  • Subhas Chandra ChakraSubhas Chandra Chakra (10/1/2016 10:56:00 AM)

    My friends without fathers or houses hear
    Doors opening in the darkness
    Whose halls announce
    Nice work.Thanks for sharing it with us.(Report)Reply

    1 person liked.
    2 person did not like.
  • Anil Kumar PandaAnil Kumar Panda (10/1/2016 10:20:00 AM)

    This is such a touching piece of poetry. Thanks for sharing.Like to read again and again.(Report)Reply

    2 person liked.
    1 person did not like.
  • Anil Kumar PandaAnil Kumar Panda (10/1/2016 10:16:00 AM)

    This is such a touching piece of poetry. Thanks for sharing.(Report)Reply

    2 person liked.
    1 person did not like.
  • Edward Kofi LouisEdward Kofi Louis (10/1/2016 5:52:00 AM)

    Grief moves among them! Thanks for sharing.(Report)Reply

    3 person liked.
    1 person did not like.
  • Ratnakar Mandlik (10/1/2016 2:58:00 AM)

    A beautiful narrative of the attributes of friends, in general. Thanks for sharing.(Report)Reply

    3 person liked.
    1 person did not like.
  • Rochelle Cashdan (5/18/2008 9:33:00 PM)

    At the line 'My friends with nothing leave it behind in a box, ' your poem captured me.(Report)Reply

    4 person liked.
    1 person did not like.
Read all 10 comments »
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Read poems about / on: grief, rain, friend, water, fire, home, dark, night, rose, smile, star



Poem Submitted: Monday, January 13, 2003