Summer/Fall 1997 • Vol. XIX No. 3/4 Kenyon Review Classics |

A Wit in Age

From THE KENYON REVIEW, SPRING 1957  Who could conjure up the ridiculous Out of all the world's postures, and wring Laughter from the straightest faces, Perceives still with unfailing Sharpness the absurdity of it all. Only the humor of it at last Escapes him. As it seemed to escape Always, even in the midst Of the riotous incongruities Of flesh, some patient lurking Propriety, dull as a bone, Which could never be made to smile. But was not deaf either, though vainly he hurled At its head volley upon volley Of laughter, which has been called divine And has survived the joke that made it And the humor that knew what it meant, And rings still in his ears, rising Everywhere, tireless as a young god, And will not even pause for breath.

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W. S. Merwin was appointed United States Poet Laureate by the Librarian of Congress in July 2010. He lives, writes, and gardens in Hawaii, on the island of Maui. He has spent the last thirty years planting nineteen acres with over eight hundred species of palm, creating a sustainable forest. The property has recently been turned into a conservancy, the Merwin Conservancy.

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