A Hymn For Water


The Fugitives Poets in 1956: Allen Tate, left, Merrill Moore, Robert Penn Warren, standing,            John Crowe Ransom and Donald Davidson.


A Hymn For Water

by Merrill Moore (1903 – 1957)

Go get water, it is good to drink
Water will drown better than wine will drown
Certain sorrows that will not go down.

Water has sunk more grievances than wine
And will continue.  Turn the water on
Stick your hand in the stream; water will run

And kiss it like a dog or it will shake
It like a friend or it will tremble there
Like a woman sobbing with her hair
Falling in her face and do not think.

That water has been everything, it has
But now it is only water, that will make
You whole as it is whole, clear as it is,
Immune against fate and her traitories.

Merrill Moore was a prolific, taciturn sonneteer, who it is estimated, wrote 50,000 sonnets.  That averages out to four sonnets a day, every day for 34 years from age 20 unti lhis death.   I may have to rethink my self titled claim to being obsessive, as by comparison, I am apathetic compared to Moore.  The question is, I wonder,  how many of them did he consider noteworthy?

Moore was a member of the The Fugitives, a group of poets and literary scholars that met at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee in 1920.  It was a remarkable group of creative talents, producing two poet laureates out of their ranks, Allen Tate and Robert Penn Warren.  The group got its name from the literary magazine they founded and published for three years, The Fugitive from 1922 – 1925.

Moore was a clinical psychologist.  He treated the poet Robert Lowell for manic depression and had a large influence on Lowell’s life.  Moore was a friend of Robert Frost who described him as a “serious physician and serious artist [who] had no notion of being taken lightly…”  At 50,000 pages, how could we see as him as anything but serious..

Now for something completely silly, check out the other Merrill Moore (no relation) singing Cow Cow Boogie..

The Book of How

by Merrill Moore

After the stars were all hung separately out
For mortal eyes to see that care to look,
The one who did it sat down and wrote a book
On how he did it. It took him about
As long to write the book as to do the deed,
But he said, “It’s things like this we mostly need.”
And the angels approved but the devils screamed with laughter,
For they knew exactly what would follow after.

For somehow he managed entirely to omit
The most important facts in accomplishing it:
Where he got the ladder to reach the stars;
And how he lighted them, especially Mars;
And what he hung them on when he got them there,
Eternally distant and luminous in the air.

Published by

A Sonnet Obsession

I am a life-long Minnesotan who resides in Minneapolis. I hope you enjoy my curated selection of sonnets, short poems and nerdy ruminations. I am pleased to offer Fourteenlines as an ad and cookie free poetry resource, to allow the poetry to be presented on its own without distractions. Fourteenlines is a testament to the power of the written word, for anyone wanting a little more poetry in their life.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s