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This paper traces W. S. Merwin’s representations of silence as a source of communicative power, with a focus toward his later poems (published after 2000). These poems, especially those in The Shadow of Sirius (2009), often depict what Walter Benjamin would call pure language: linguistic form that generates the power of communication by virtue of its silence or ineffability. Merwin registers this negative productivity of language in the Benjaminian sense when he describes a primary linguistic entity that founds speech without being spoken—such as a sigh, in “Utterance,” ancient words, in “To the Words,” “one long syllable” in “Glassy Sea,” and “the first sound” in “The Long and the Short of It.” Further, Merwin’s poems in Sirius seem to investigate language’s origi￾nary relationship with silence by employing recurring motifs such as the trace of a song and the sounds of silence thereafter. In “Grace Note,” “Calling a Distant Animal,” “The Laughing Thrush,” and other poems in this collection, Merwin portrays vanishing sounds that seem to also empower speech. Silence in his later poetry can be read not so much as a negative phenomenon indicating the limits of language or the abyss of subjectivity, as some critics have previously suggested. This paper takes an alternative view, and argues that Merwin’s silence instead entails a dialectic of absence and presence, negativity and productivity, because it embodies a pure linguistic form that enables words to mean something by lacking meaning in themselves. In short, Merwin’s silence can be read as constituting the communicable essence of language.