if people respond to a poem of mine at all

Jeffrey Brown: Another thing that comes through here is a kind of simplicity of language, of form.

W.S. Merwin: I'm so glad you say that, because I've been trying since I was 30, at least, to write more simply and more directly. I like the idea that sometimes one hears poetry as though one were overhearing it, you know?

And sometimes my favorite passages of poetry seem like that. They're something that -- they're just around in the air somewhere, you know, and they seem so simple, the way Mozart seemed so simple, you know? He certainly is not, but neither is Shakespeare, but, "Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?" I mean, it takes your breath away. You stop and think, "My god, how beautiful that line is."

Brown: You mean, you're trying to pare down to a kind of clarity?

Merwin: I would like it -- if people respond to a poem of mine at all, I would like them to feel finally that they might have written it, you know?

Really, that they might have written it?

They might have written it, yes.

- from an interview as part of NewsHour's Poetry Series. Read the whole transcript or listen to the interview here.

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