A Garden is Not the Wilderness

by W.S. Merwin

Obviously a garden is not the wilderness
but an assembly of shapes,
most of them living,
that owes
some share of its composition,
it’s appearance,
to human design and effort,
human conventions and convenience,
and the human pursuit
of that elusive, indefinable harmony
that we call beauty.
It has a life of its own,
an intricate,
secret life,
as any gardener knows.
It is only
the humans in it
who think of it
as a garden.
But a garden is a relationship,
which is one
of the countless reasons
it is never finished.


Note: Today is the birthday of the American poet WS Merwin, who always went by William, and who was born on this day in 1927.

In 2010, Merwin and his wife, Paula, co-founded the Merwin Conservancy at his home in Haiku, Maui. Merwin used the 19 protected acres surrounding his home to cultivate 400 different species of tropical trees; and many of the world's rarest palm trees. Merwin bought the property in 1977, and every day, he planted one tree.

Merwin's story is outlined in an excellent opinion piece about Merwin that was featured in the New York Times earlier in 2019.

As featured on
The Daily Gardener podcast:

Words inspired by the garden are the sweetest, most beautiful words of all.
William Merwin
William Merwin

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