AFTER THE ALPHABETS
I am trying to decipher the language of insects
they are the tongues of the future
their vocabularies describe buildings as food
they can depict dark water and the veins of trees
they can convey what they do not know
and what is known at a distance
and what nobody knows
they have terms for making music with the legs
they can recount changing in a sleep like death
they can sing with wings
the speakers are their own meaning in a grammar without horizons
they are wholly articulate
they are never important they are everything
— W.S. Merwin, from his 1988 book The Rain in the Trees. Copyright © 1988 by W. S. Merwin.
Merwin died this month at the age of 91.