Everything is Continuous

A skin drum, hand made in Morocco and an artifact of extraordinary presence, was lent to me by my friend John Wyrick and now hangs on my studio wall.


First, forget what time it is for an hour.
Do it regularly every day.
Then forget what day of the week it is,
and do this regularly in company for a week.
Then forget what country you are in,
and practice doing it in company for a week,
and then do them together for a week
with as few breaks as possible.
Follow these by forgetting how to add
or to subtract.
It makes no difference.
You can change them around after a week.
Both will later help you to forget how to count.

Forget how to count,
starting with your own age,
starting with how to count backwards,
starting with even numbers,
with roman numerals,
starting with fractions,
with the old calendar,
going on to the alphabet,
forgetting it all until everything
is continuous and whole again.

— W. S. Merwin

Reliably provocative, Merwin is a good source for “back to essentials” thinking and feeling. (He is currently the United States Poet Laureate.) Thanks to one of my favorite sites, Blog from a Hermit, for bringing this one into my visibility.

7 Replies to “Everything is Continuous”

  1. Love this! And your blog in general. This poem is kind of a modern how-to on Taoist meditation. I’ll have to check out more of Merwin’s work. Thanks!

  2. Happy Thanksgiving, Deb.

  3. Berikhtiyarlah menjadi yang terbaik di antara yang baik.

  4. Dear Deborah,
    Thank you for sharing Merwin’s poem.It reminded me of his “The River Bees” which he reads on “A Century of Recorded Poetry”. You may find it on poetryfoundation.org, one of my favourite websites (http://www.poetryfoundation.org/archive/poem.html?id=171872).
    Take care,

  5. Thanks Birte for the link to Merwin’s The River Bees. And yes, this poem is a modern how-to on meditation.

  6. Beautiful poem by Merwin. I really enjoyed reading your blog — a lovely serendipitious find!

  7. /dear Deborah, I’ve been enjoying your blog for a few years. Imagine my delight when I found this post… I know John Wyrick as a Sufi Teacher, Healer & Elder, and never expected to find him here… esp. on Thanksgiving. Lovely… thank you.

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