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W.S. Merwin is arguably the most influential American poet of the last half-century - an artist who has transfigured and reinvigorated the vision of poetry for our time. An essential voice in modern American literature, he was United States Poet Laureate in 2010-11. This new collection written in his late-80s finds him deeply immersed in reflection on the passage of time and the frailty and sustaining power of memory. Telegraphing between past and present, he shows us a powerful and moving vision of the eternal, focusing on images of mornings, sunsets, shifting seasons, stars, birds and insects to capture the connectedness of time, space and the natural world. In a poem about Li Po, 'now there is only the river / that was always on its own way'. In another poem he dreams that 'the same river is still here / the house is the old house and I am here in the morning / in the sunlight and the same bird is singing'. He remembers when 'dragonflies were as common as sunlight / hovering in their own days' and recalls 'a house that had been left to its own silence / for half a century'. In a poem of wonder entitled 'Variations to the Accompaniment of a Cloud', he writes: 'I keep looking for what has always been mine / searching for it even as I / think of leaving it.'
W.S. Merwin is arguably the most influential American poet of the last half-century - an artist who has transfigured and reinvigorated the vision of poetry for our time. An essential voice in modern American literature, he was United States Poet Laureate in 2010-11. The Moon Before Morning is his first collection of new poems since The Shadow of Sirius (2009), which won him his second Pulitzer Prize. This new book written in his mid-80s finds him deeply immersed in reflection on the passage of time and the frailty and sustaining power of memory. Telegraphing between past and present, Merwin shows us the now still ferries of Weehawken Bergen Yonkers that first brought him home from the hospital as a baby, the early schoolhouse now destroyed, and the playground where his mother 'with an orphan's uncertainty / feeling that she was a stranger / wanting to do the correct thing' refused to leave his side. He shows us, too, the feel of the trade winds as they move in on a Saturday morning in Hawaii, the silhouette of a palm against a darkening sky, and the once young hands, now suddenly old, engaged in the familiar motion of picking flowers, offering us, in these moments, a powerful and moving vision of the eternal. Poetry Book Society Recommendation.
WS Merwin may be the most influential American poet of the last half-century - an artist who has transfigured and reinvigorated the vision of poetry for our time. Bloodaxe published his Selected Poems in 2007. Now 81, Merwin has produced 'his best book in a decade - and one of the best outright' ( Publishers Weekly ). The nuanced mysteries of light, darkness, presence, and memory are central themes in his latest collection. 'I have only what I remember,' Merwin admits, and his memories are focused and profound - the distinct qualities of autumn light, a conversation with a boyhood teacher, well-cultivated loves, and 'our long evenings and astonishment'. In Photographer , Merwin presents the scene where arm loads of antique glass negatives are saved from a dump cart by 'someone who understood'. In Empty Lot , Merwin evokes a child lying in bed at night, listening to the muffled dynamite blasts of coal mining near his home, and we can't help but ask: How shall we mine our lives?
W.S. Merwin is arguably the most influential American poet of the last half-century - an artist who has transfigured and reinvigorated the vision of poetry for our time. While he has long been viewed in the States as an essential voice in modern American literature, his poetry has been unavailable in Britain for over 35 years. This new selection covers over five decades of his poetry, from The Dancing Bears (1954) to Present Company (2005). Most of the book is drawn from his major American retrospective, Migration , winner of the 2005 National Book Award for Poetry. Merwin's poetry has moved beyond the traditional verse of his early years to revolutionary open forms that engage a vast array of influences and possibilities. As Adrienne Rich wrote of his work: I would be shamelessly jealous of this poetry, if I didn't take so much from it into my own life. His recent poetry is perhaps his most personal, arising from his deeply held beliefs. Merwin is not only profoundly anti-imperialist, pacifist and environmentalist, but also possessed by an intimate feeling for landscape and language and the ways in which land and language interflow. His latest poems are densely imagistic, dream-like, and full of praise for the natural world. The intentions of Merwin's poetry are as broad as the biosphere yet as intimate as a whisper. He conveys in the sweet simplicity of grounded language a sense of the self where it belongs, floating between heaven, earth, and the underground - Peter Davison, Atlantic Monthly . He has attained - more and more with every collection - a wonderfully streamlined diction that unerringly separates and recombines like quicksilver scattered upon a shifting plane, but remains as faithful to the warms and cools of the human heart as that same mercury in the pan-pipe of a thermometer - James Merrill.