For a Coming Extinction

merwinlaughsAv W. S. Merwin


Gray whale

Now that we are sending you to The End

That great god

Tell him

That we who follow you invented forgiveness

And forgive nothing


I write as though you could understand

And I could say it

One must always pretend something

Among the dying

When you have left the seas nodding on their stalks

Empty of you

Tell him that we were made

On another day


The bewilderment will diminish like an echo

Winding along your inner mountains

Unheard by us

And find its way out

Leaving behind it the future


And ours

When you will not see again

The whale calves trying the light

Consider what you will find in the black garden

And its court

The sea cows the Great Auks the gorillas


The irreplaceable hosts ranged countless

And foreordaining as stars

Our sacrifices


Join your word to theirs

Tell him

That it is we who are important



«For a Coming Extinction» by W.S.Merwin. Copyright © W.S.Merwin, 2006, used by permission of The Wylie Agency (UK) Limited.
No changes shall be made to the Work without the written consent of W. S. Merwin or W. S. Merwin’s representative.
No further use of this material in extended distribution, other media, or future editions shall be made without the
express written consent of The Wylie Agency. All rights not expressly granted herein are hereby reserved and retained
by W. S. Merwin.»


Merwin is a former Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets and has served as Poetry Consultant to the Library of Congress. He served as Poet Laureate of the United States from 2010 to 2011. He currently lives and works in Hawaii. (Source:

Norwegian Writer´s Climate Campaign says thank you for the poem, Mr. Merwin!

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