ASHBERY SIGHTINGS: THE FINAL PROPHESY OF W. S. MERWIN (THE NEW YORKER)

Photograph by Tom Sewell / NYT / Redux

Photograph by Tom Sewell / NYT / Redux

Great American poet W. S. Merwin passed away on March 15th at the age of 92. He and John Ashbery were both born in 1927, and his lovely tribute to Merwin, Dan Chiasson writes the following double-tribute to both Merwin and Ashbery in The New Yorker:

from “The Final Prophecy of W. S. Merwin,” from the “Postscript” section of The New Yorker, appearing March 17, 2019:

By Dan Chiasson

Merwin published an excellent selected volume in 2017, which I reviewed in this magazine. I was finishing it up when I heard of the death of John Ashbery, who was born in the same year as Merwin. I remember thinking that Ashbery, in his bland, white high-rise in Chelsea, and Merwin, in his palm garden in Hawaii, were like the gates of the rising and the setting sun. American sentries: Ashbery faced east (his actual apartment faced slightly west; just go with it), and kept an eye on reality as it approached, always monitoring its fresh and new and bewildering presentations; Merwin looked west, and saw the moments as they bent toward obliteration, casting their long shadows backward. We’ll be in his shadow for some time yet.