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Vicissitudes of fortune,
which spares neither man
nor the proudest of his works, which buries empires
and cities in a common grave.
Edward Gibbon
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Poems on Passing
TO LUCK


In the cards and at the bend in the road
we never saw you
in the womb and in the crossfire
in the numbers
whatever you had your hand in
which was everything
we were told never to put
our faith in you
to bow to you humbly after all
because in the end there was nothing
else we could do
but not to believe in you
still we might coax you with pebbles
kept warm in the hand
or coins or the relics
of vanished animals
observances rituals
not binding upon you
who make no promises
we might do such things only
not to neglect you
and risk your disfavor
oh you who are never the same
who are secret as the day when it comes
you whom we explain
as often as we can
without understanding


W. S. Merwin
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Poems on Passings & Partings
After Reading T'ao Ch'ing
The Argument
Aubade
For My (Grand) Daughter
Philosophy
The Pond at Dusk
Preparations for a Parting
To Luck
What's in My Journal
Kindness
Three Songs at the End
Meadowbrook Nursing Home
Let Evening Come
Exercise
No Children, No Pets
Doctors
Choice of Diseases
When Death Comes
Becoming
Remember When
The Blue Blanket
Boat on the River
Candles
Sun and Moon
Remember When [another]
Forgiveness
In November
Thinking about the Past
Taking Down the Tree