W.S. Merwin in Selected Translations 1968-1978 has rendered selections from Asia which he gathers under the rubrics Japanese Figures, Chinese Figures and Korean Figures. The pieces are two-liners (they don’t quite function like couplets) without any direct links between them. The impression generated is one of a collection of aphorisms. One of my favourites is found in Korean Figures — there is something outré about its subject matter and something insightful in its treatment.
Even on dog turds
the dew falls
One can appreciate the remarkable syntax which by placing “the dew” last implies a universal fate — the dew covers many many things including the abject. As well, the poet refers to a definite dew — it’s “the” dew not simply “dew”. The use of the verb “to fall” to describe the dew makes it in someway akin to what has already fallen and of course the shared initial consonant between “dog” and “dew” evokes a certain similitude. And on the pages of Merwin’s book there is a bit of white space before the next two-liner — enough space for dew to evaporate and excrement to decompose.
And so for day 1118