July 9 W.S. Merwin: Song of Man Chipping An Arrowhead

Unlike yesterday’s post, this has a bit of imagination. I’m guessing that it was a found poem – statement on modern spirituality. Whatever. It’s one line and just took eyes to write. I guess that’s a skill.

This one has a beauty, because it feels like it has a couple of layers to it. It says to me that some are ordinary (“the Little Children”) and will fall away into history as one of the many, but there is one that will shine and be known – at least by name (and bored school children). “Song of Man Chipping An Arrowhead” has a Native American feel to it, because the titles of their stories never name anyone specific (crow tricks spider, mouse swims across the ocean, et cetera…) and their stories are all told in song, and, well, arrowhead, guess that’s kind of a stereotype, but the mind goes where the mind goes.

Also, the Native Americans tended to personify objects. For instance, here in the Pacific Northwest, our Mount Rainier was known to the Natives as “the Old Man”. I don’t think they believed that the mountain was alive, but they felt that the mountain had the spirit of an old man. It was described as cranky, because whenever someone climbed it the mountain would obstruct him or her in the way a cranky old man would (get off my lawn, you kids!). Here the chips of the arrow are personified as fallen children. The stone is losing its progeny for the One, the true heir to the rock, the arrow that can be found within.

I’m possibly reading too much into it. And that’s fine. That’s what poetry is for.

Song of Man Chipping An Arrowhead

by W.S. Merwin

Little children you will all go
but the one you are hiding
will fly

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About penneloppe

I like to write horror, dark fantasy and crime fiction. Sometimes, I'll write science fiction, but usually I like to write science fact. I also write screenplays and stage plays. My day job is office work. I live in Seattle and I have a cat.
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