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1. A Zen Wave: Basho's Haiku and
2. The First Four Books of Poems
3. The Rain in the Trees
4. The Shadow of Sirius
5. Migration: New & Selected
6. The Second Four Books of Poems:
7. The Life of Lazarillo de Tormes
8. Flower & Hand: Poems, 1977-1983
9. Summer Doorways: A Memoir
10. The Ends of the Earth: Essays
11. Travels
12. The Pupil: Poems
13. Transparence of the World (A Kagean
14. The River Sound: Poems
15. The Vixen
16. Unframed Originals: Recollections
17. Poetry as Labor and Privilege:
18. W. S. Merwin (Bloom's Major Poets)
19. W. S. Merwin: Essays on the Poetry
20. The Mays of Ventadorn (National

1. A Zen Wave: Basho's Haiku and Zen
by Matsuo Basho
Paperback: 192 Pages (2003-10-01)
list price: US$15.00 -- used & new: US$8.65
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1593760086
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

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Zen Buddhism distinguishes itself by brilliant flashes of insight and its terseness of expression. The haiku verse form is a superb means of studying Zen modes of thought and expression, for its seventeen syllables impose a rigorous limitation that confines the poet to vital experience. Here haiku by Matsuo Basho (1644-94) — the greatest Japanese haiku poet — are translated by Robert Aitken, with commentary that provides a new and deeper understanding of Basho’s work than ever before. In presenting themes from the haiku and from Zen literature that open the doors both to the poems and to Zen itself, Aitken has produced the first book about the relationship between Zen and haiku. His readers are certain to find it invaluable for the remarkable revelations it offers. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (3)

5-0 out of 5 stars Totally Recommended
Full disclosure:I came to this book with a strong interest in the haiku of Basho (as well as Issa, Buson, Chiyo-ni, et.al.) but very little knowledge of the Japanese language.Most of the books I've been able to find so far provide various translations but little commentary or translator's notes.A Zen Wave, however, provides much to think on--a well-considered English translation; the original in romanji; and a literal word-for-word translation.Comments on individual poems go into the particular challenges of rendering Japanese into understandable English (random example:"Most translators render naki as "weep," but this is incorrect.Its homonym means "weep," and so this carries through as an overtone, but the ideograph Basho used refers to the cry of any animal, with reference derived from context.")

The other aspect of the book is, of course, Zen.Aitken uncovers deeper meaning in Basho's haiku, informed by both Basho's understanding of Zen (he was "familiar with the ways of Zen monks to some degree") and Aitken's own (as a Zen roshi.)These essays take the reader to many delightful places, bringing all sorts of things along the way--poems by T.S. Eliot and Joyce Carol Oates; monk stories; Zen koans; slightly cranky rants (oh, the poor acolyte of the 60s-70s who wanted master Aitken to LOVE his students . . . ); and out-and-out didacticism."Basho's purpose was not merely self-expression," Aitken tells us. "With his great compassionate heart, he was saying, 'Go thou and do likewise.'"

Again, I am no expert on haiku or Zen; merely a student.As such, I found this work both delightful and useful.I would not agree with a previous reviewer who found the book lacking in "depth" but I wouldn't mind if Aitken had tackled more poems.For that matter, I wouldn't mind if other contemporary translators of Japanese poetry would give us more material like this.

5-0 out of 5 stars An excellent insight into the translation of Zen haiku
A Zen Wave: Basho's Haiku and Zen

This book provides an excellent insight into the editing choices that must be made in translating poetry (in this case Zen haiku) from another language into English. I found the author's discussions and commentary to be compelling and answered many questions that had arisen in my mind concerning the interpretation of Japanese haiku. By providing the Japanese poem side-by-side with a literal word-by-word transcription into English, together with the author's translation of the poem into English, I was able to easily follow the author's rationale as to how best to express the essence of the poem.

This book is more, however, because it provides insights into Basho the man and Basho the poet, influences upon his life and the poems he wrote,and the context within which those poems were written.By way of further explanation and comparison, the author also provides haiku from other poets and alternative translations of the subject haiku by other translators.

3-0 out of 5 stars Zen Wave
This book is an early work by a respected and cherished Zen adept.For this reader it lacks depth and breadth but should appeal to a beginner. ... Read more

2. The First Four Books of Poems
by W.S. Merwin
Paperback: 256 Pages (2000-04-01)
list price: US$18.00 -- used & new: US$10.97
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 155659139X
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Half Roundel

I make no prayer
For the spoilt season,
The weed of Eden.
I make no prayer.
Save us the green
In the weed of time.

Now is November;
In night uneasy
Nothing I say.
I make no prayer.
Save us from the water
That washes us away.

What do I ponder?
All smiled disguise,
Lights in cold places,
I make no prayer.
Save us from air
That wears us loosely.

The leaf of summer
To cold has come
In little time.
I make no prayer.
From earth deliver
And the dark therein.

Now is no whisper
Through all the living.
I speak to nothing.
I make no prayer.
Save us from fire
Consuming up and down.

Evening with Lee Shore and Cliffs

Sea-shimmer, faint haze, and far out a bird
Dipping for flies or fish. Then, when over
That wide silk suddenly the shadow
Spread skating, who turned with a shiver
High in the rocks? And knew, then only, the waves'
Layering patience: how they would follow after,
After, dogged as sleep, to his inland
Dreams, oh beyond the one lamb that cried
In the olives, past the pines' derision. And heard
Behind him not the sea's gaiety but its laughter.

The Fishermen

When you think how big their feet are in black rubber
And it slippery underfoot always, it is clever
How they thread and manage among the sprawled nets, lines,
Hooks, spidery cages with small entrances.
But they are used to it. We do not know their names.
They know our needs, and live by them, lending them wiles
And beguilements we could never have fashioned for them;
They carry the ends of our hungers out to drop them
To wait swaying in a dark place we could never have chosen.
By motions we have never learned they feed us.
We lay wreaths on the sea when it has drowned them.

... Read more

Customer Reviews (3)

5-0 out of 5 stars Amazing book
This book is absolutely amazing. I love Merwin so much now. Almost every poem feels like he is talking directly to me or about me in some way. It is everything I would like to say as a poet but dont have the experience to reach this level of genius.

5-0 out of 5 stars Golden!
One of the greatest books compiled in poetry, Merwin's First Four includes what I believe is one of our most special manuscripts, and that special one would be The Dancing Bears. If you are at all interested in poetry, this is where you should start if you would like a guideline for good taste and well honed syntax. Merwin represents the naturalist and the philosopher as much as Walt Whitman did but with less flare. This stuff is not as formal as some would have you believe, and it is home to some of his best poetry, including more than one of many anthology poems. Do not be scared to purchase.

Mystical, inspiring, and it's a shame he would win the pulitzer with The Carrier Of Ladders, from the second four, because it is not nearly as well written, meaningful, nor structured or progressive. While the poetry varies much of it takes an esoteric and unified outlook on living using nature and ideas to explain why things on earth seem so absurd, and it grants these moments a warmth that few poets possess.

Poets used to be in the forefront of society, and now that we are all but shadows, time will have its day o'er night, fortress of the star a gift we hold bright, blinded is the fool that wrings to wash, words are but ornaments as delicate frost, serration of all spirit and doom, ragnorak instilled in Shiva's surreptitious tomb, reborn in rainbow spectrums and the swift motion of a cipher's axe, tremble tremble at the foot of Merwin's white meadow intact, poiesis for this celebration cerebral, dancing through perdition in contumelious rewrites, belly-up bears are bouncing dusk and bountiful twilight.

5-0 out of 5 stars Hard to read for the uninitiated
This is very hard to get into unless you're familiar with Merwin's more contemporary works.

In this volume of his first four poetry books, he explores themes familiar to us all: love, animals, folk tales, themes in nature, rivers, and death.

His poems are almost all uniquely consistent with the same voice; there is none of the rising up and swelling of other poets, no rhythm to speak of, and one gets the hint that Merwin should've been writing without punctuation at all from the very beginning. He startles you on occassion with his unique insights (White Goat, White Rain) and his great sense of being there in the moment.

I think if you like his contemporary poems, then you should try to read this. They're kinda hard to get into. But otherwise a great showing from a great master. ... Read more

3. The Rain in the Trees
by W.S. Merwin
Paperback: 96 Pages (1988-03-12)
list price: US$18.95 -- used & new: US$12.62
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0394758587
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Product Description
A literary event -- a new volume of poems by one of the masters of modern poetry -- The Rain in the Trees is W. S. Merwin's first book since the publication five years ago of his Opening the Hand.

Almost no other poet of our time has been able to voice in so subtle a fashion such a profound series of comments on the passing of history over the contemporary scene. To do this, he seems to have reinvented the poem -- so that the experience of reading Merwin is unlike the reading of any other poetry. In such famous books as The Lice, The Moving Target and (most recently) Opening the Hand, he has produced a body of work of great profundity and power made from the simplest and most beautiful poetic speech.

The poems in this new book are concerned with intimacy and wholeness, and are made of the relations with people, with places, past and present, and with history and how the world endures it.

Merwin can now rightfully be called a master, and this book shows in every way why this is the case. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (3)

4-0 out of 5 stars Good condition, packaged nicely.
This booked was shipped in good condition, and the description online fit the condition of the book.Thank you.

5-0 out of 5 stars W.S. Merwin
Images of nature no where nearly cover the symbolism Merwin's poems have. Figurative phrases can be found through out. The mind longs to read them again in their extended absence.

5-0 out of 5 stars Entrancing
W. S. Merwin is clearly a major figure in American poetry. His work, emphasizing nature, memory, plants, the forest, is thought-provoking, insightful, and delightful. If you buy only one book of poetry this year,buy this one. Everyone we have shared the book with has become absolutelyenchanted- a true masterpiece. ... Read more

4. The Shadow of Sirius
by W.S. Merwin
Paperback: 130 Pages (2009-10-01)
list price: US$16.00 -- used & new: US$9.20
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1556593104
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Winner of the 2009 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry

Featured on NPR's "Fresh Air" and "The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer" on PBS.

Honored as one of the "Best Books of the Year" from Publishers Weekly.

"A collection of luminous, often tender poems that focus on the profound power of memory." —Pulitzer Prize Committee

"In his personal anonymity, his strict individuated manner, his defense of the earth, and his heartache at time's passing, Merwin has become instantly recognizable on the page; he has made for himself that most difficult of creations, an accomplished style." —Helen Vendler, The New York Review of Books

“Merwin is one of the great poets of our age.”—Los Angeles Times Book Review

"[The Shadow of Sirius is] the very best of all Merwin: I have been reading William since 1952, and always with joy." —Harold Bloom

"[Merwin's] best book in a decade—and one of the best outright... The poems... feel fresh and awake with a simplicity that can only be called wisdom." —Publishers Weekly, starred review

"Merwin's gentle wisdom and attentiveness to the world are alive as ever. These deeply reflective meditations move through light and darkness, old love and turning seasons to probe the core of human existence." —Orion

"[The Shadow of Sirius] shows the earthly possibilities of simple completeness in a writer's mature work. More than an achievement in poetry, this is an achievement in writing." —Harvard Review

The nuanced mysteries of light, darkness, presence, and memory are central themes in W.S. Merwin’s new book of poems. “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 armloads of antique glass negatives are saved from a dumpcart 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?

somewhere the Perseids are falling
toward us already at a speed that would
burn us alive if we could believe it
but in the stillness after the rain ends
nothing is to be heard but the drops falling

W.S. Merwin, author of over fifty books, is America’s foremost poet. His last two books were honored with major literary awards: Migration won the National Book Award, and Present Company received the Bobbitt Prize from the Library of Congress.

... Read more

Customer Reviews (14)

2-0 out of 5 stars Whoever said "A poem must not mean, but be" should be shot!
In declaring "a poem must not mean/but be," poet Archibald MacLeish unwittingly inspired a torrent of awful poetry, and nowhere is that more apparent than in the work of W.S. Merwin.The poems are all style (of a sort), and no substance."And at that moment he remembered who he was/only he had forgotten his name."Would someone please tell me what that actually means, apart from the fact that the poet is merely being ironic for the sake of being ironic.The poems in this collection, like most of Merwin's collections, are ephemeral wisps that try to pass themselves off as riddles heavy with ironic meaning, only they aren't heavy with meaning at all -- they are essentially meaningless.The wheels never gain traction.And the imagery here isn't really evocative of much of anything -- it is too insubstantial to be evocative.These poems seem to be striving ineffably for meaning while at the same time suggesting there is no meaning.Sorry, Mr. Merwin, a poem must not simply be, it actually has to mean.Pick up some of Yeats' poems, you'll get the idea. I think Merwin came closest to this in "Carrier of Ladders," but again, the moment he seems to actually steer toward meaning, he quickly reverts to "being." If you can manage to get through this collection of poems without being sucked into the quicksand of nothingness, you'll feel as though you had eaten cotton candy.Hardly a meal, that, but you probably get what I mean.

2-0 out of 5 stars Unpleasant surprise.
W. S. Merwin, The Shadow of Sirius (Copper Canyon Press, 2008)

There are some poets who come relatively close to the household-name threshold, even in an America where poetry is about as dead as the influence of the Kennedy clan. W. S. Merwin is one of them. He's won the Pulitzer Prize twice (1971 and 2009, the latter for this book), the Academy of American Poets' Tanning Prize (1994), the National Book Award (2005), and the Bobbitt Poetry Prize from the Library of Congress (2005, for a different book). And, most recently, he was named Poet Laureate of the United States. And this is not an exhaustive list by any means. I figured it was probably time to get around to reading him. Why not start with a Pulitzer winner? As well, I've been on a run of really, really good poetry recently (I've given two five-star and one four-and-a-half-star reviews to poetry books in the last two months, and that has never happened before), so I went into this confident that I'd love it. And then I started reading.

Now, I grant you, Merwin does come up with a line every now and again that makes a reader stop in his tracks and think about what an awesome line it is. ("the bird lies still while the light goes on flying", from "Unknown Age", is my favorite line in the book.) And sometimes he manages to combine a number of good-to-great lines to form an entire good poem ("Nocturne II" is a good example). But for the most part, this is a collection that seems phoned in to me, what a magazine editor whose name I have now long forgotten called "easy, false surrealism". Merwin adopts Apollinaire's tactic of leaving out all punctuation, but his language doesn't have the ebb and flow one expects from poets who do this; his rhythms jar far more than roll. The images are stock, and while there are real emotions behind them once in a while, it's not enough to transcend the quotidian nature of the work itself.

There's some good stuff here, but not nearly enough to occasion doing more than taking it out of the library. **

5-0 out of 5 stars Reading Sirius = Serious Reading
Today we flew back from St. Petersburg to Baltimore and my wife caught me weeping on the plane. I don't know if any of you have ever done something like this, postpone for two years a personal encounter with a prize-winning book that you are just dying to read, one that has been in your possession the entire time and is sure to be terrific, one that has been written by one of the great poets of the 20th century, just because you need a special occasion to read it. This past weekend proved to offer all that I required: a brief visit to my 98 year old father in the coolish but sunny terrain of Florida, the company of all our children and our 10 month old granddaughter Olivia, not to mention a temporary escape from snow-blindness, cabin-fever and the worst winter on record.

W.S. Merwin's The Shadow of Sirius (Copper Canyon Press, 2008) won its author his second Pulitzer Prize at the age of 82; he already had won a National Book Award for what looked to be his finale, Migration, a New and Selected (2005) and a first Pulitzer for a book he had written in the 1960s, The Carrier of Ladders (1970). Although poetry is thought to be a young man's game, there are some notable exceptions (c.f. those also-rans W.B. Yeats and Wallace Stevens) and Merwin's career appears to be a sterling example: The Shadow of Sirius is his best book. The passage of time and the on-rushing twilight have sharpened his attention to the major and eternal subjects of poetic inquery and the same forces have shorn his work of its early surrealistic veneer and unnecessary obscurity. Many of the familiar devices remain: the relatively short lines, the absence of punctuation, the attention to natural phenomena, the preciousness of memory. Merwin is not fond of simile and the same metaphoric symbols (moon, night, river, wind) are used over and over. Despite the spareness of the music, or perhaps because of it, the poems are extremely moving, filled with a calm Buddhist-like acceptance, a type of wisdom and spirituality that no amount of preaching and teaching can inculcate with such force and humility (see the gnomic parable "Far Along In The Story" from Part 1). If you have ever heard Merwin read, you can immediately appreciate how well each line communicates the gentle formality and breath control of his speaking voice. The Dog Star of the sailor's summer sky, long a symbol of passionate intensity, Sirius itself makes no appearance in the book, the more mundane and human passions of the hot-tempered and hot-blooded season of life fading into memory as the summer fades into fall and winter. The book is divided into three sections, the first devoted to childhood memories, the second discreet ruminations on death through meditations on the deaths of his dogs (Sirius again), before it reaches a grand integration in its final third, justifying Merwin's claim that he, and by extension all of us, is only what he can remember. Discussing a photograph in the poem "A Likeness" (from Part 1), Merwin concludes:

but the picture has
faded suddenly
spots have marred it
maybe it is past repair
I have only what I remember

But Merwin is too wise not to understand the unreliability of what we remember, even if it is the basis of our art and our humanity. Further, this unreliability is rooted in the very moment of a memory's making. In "No Shadow" (from Part 3) he returns to a valley that he first saw more than half a lifetime ago. Observing the clouds and the sky reflected in the valley's river, the final couplet reads:

the river still seems not to move
as though it were the same river

Some of the poems interpolate rhyme ("Good Night" from Part 2) or more often employ self-contained prose poems as central stanzas ("Recognitions" from Part 3). Merwin has a long history of translating poems from several different languages and the outliers in Sirius to Merwin's normal working methods reveal his deep mastery of a variety of accepted and nonce forms. Here are the wonderful opening and closing lines of "Recognitions":

Stories come to us like new senses

a wave and an ash tree were sisters
they had been separated since they were children
but they went on believing in each other
though each was sure that the other must be lost
and they wrote to each other every day
without knowing where to send the letters
some of which have come to light only now
revealing in their old but familiar language
a view of the world we could not have guessed at

but that we always wanted to believe

Having just re-read D.H. Tracy's wonderful essay on "Bad Ideas" in verse (Poetry magazine, November 2006), put me in mind of a homophonic mis-reading of Merwin's title (and this brief note) as The Shadow of Serious. Tracy advances the theory that there are two types of poets, those who treat their ideas with seriousness because they deeply believe in them (whether they are correct or not) and those writers who are not serious, selecting their subjects and themes because the topic is trendy, pleasing, superficially poetic, or one that the poet's audience expects him to address irrespective of his commitment to it. As an example he offers the religious poetry of a figure such as Hopkins for whom any critical discussion of his poetic method must include due consideration of his fervent Catholicism. In such writers it is not enough to parse lines and take their world view for granted, to assume that it is a mere appurtenance attached to the scaffold of lines and words rather than the driving force behind the creation of the art. Such makers mean it when they speak and the sound world of their poetry is wholly believable; in this sense, as in many others, Merwin qualifies as a truly serious poet, one for whom the existential situation of man in the universe is met with calm acceptance and the certainty of nature's wisdom.

5-0 out of 5 stars First Thoughts on Merwin
Darkness, in a simple sense, is really just a blanket register for all that which is beyond human perception.Too many writers never seem to outgrow the infantile fear that something unseen is equivalent to something obliterated, and as such shroud their demons in black and fears in the absence of light.W.S. Merwin, however, does not have this hindrance and as such is fit to observe the beauty of human awareness by writing about just how little the light reveals and how much one is forced to conjecture from the shadows in his book of poems entitled The Shadow of Sirius.
What is perhaps most striking about the poems is how simple they appear; very few of the poems are over a page in length and yet one can easily read them for hours before they feel as if they feel their meaning with anything approaching completeness.Much of the poetry deals with memories of the author that, drawn from his mind, have been allowed to manifest onto the pages as images formed from little marks of jet black.A talented writer can evoke the beauty not just of what is seen, but also what might ordinarily be beyond immediate perception.Merwin can do this magnificently with astoundingly few words.His poems "The Pinnacle" and "A Broken Glass" are ample evidence of his talent for revealing what might otherwise be missed.But what are truly impressive are the poems that manage to show the marvel of that which is believed beyond human perception, things which are unseen that no amount of searching or observation can bring one to a definite conclusion about their nature.Poems like "No," for example, which muse on the fate of the dead, force one to look at the shadow of a tombstone, wonder about what it might be covering, and then come to the realization that one has only the very faintest idea.While such a realization may make one feel lost amidst a universe of ambiguities, it can also make one understand that what little one can perceive is all the more precious.
Merwin's poem "Calling a Distant Animal" from part two of the book is a particularly strong example of a poem that captures the beauty of an attempt to find something tangible.The poem begins with a bit of mimicry, a single part of the unnamed bird's call, "one note," that the narrator attempts to sound by use of his own desire to see the creature again.The note is "plucked from a string of longing," which leads into the second stanza, bringing the reader to the formation of the actual call by transforming the longing of the first stanza into an actual lengthening of the "instrument's" string, "tightened suddenly from both ends," for only a moment before the tone is struck out, and in being sounded, removed from the actual birdsong and fails to achieve the desired effect.Since the call is only reminiscent of the actual call, it can be known only in "the old night," where the bird once was.The narrator can only recognize the familiar silence of the creature's absence.Though the bird's presence remains unaccounted for, the non-presence of the bird is recognized as an object by the poem's end, so the unsuccessful call still remains a summoning sound.And Merwin conveys this idea, which could easily be pondered on for pages, in under seventy words.
Whether or not one is a "poetry person" there is much to be appreciated about this marvelous book.One need have no qualms about purchasing it.

5-0 out of 5 stars Enchantment
This book won the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry.I have never been a huge fan of poetry, but this book is full of poems that go directly into the heart and soul.The beauty and connection of each poem to me and my life lifted this book to number one for me.I am a voracious reader, so this is the highest praise I can give.Well worth reading for the beginner in poetry reading or the most advanced.Run, do not walk, to the nearest store and obtain a copy.You will love it~ You will be enriched beyond measure by it. ... Read more

5. Migration: New & Selected Poems
by W.S. Merwin
Paperback: 570 Pages (2007-09-01)
list price: US$24.00 -- used & new: US$14.41
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1556592612
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Product Description

Named one of the 100 Notable Books of the Year by The New York Times.

Winner of the National Book Award for Poetry

“The poems in Migration speak a life-long belief in the power of words to awaken our drowsy souls and see the world with compassionate interconnection.”—National Book Award judges’ statement

“The publication of W. S. Merwin’s selected and new poems is one of those landmark events in the literary world.”—Los Angeles Times

W. S. Merwin is the most influential American poet of the last half-century—an artist who has transfigured and reinvigorated the vision of poetry for our time. Migration: New and Selected Poems is that case. This 540-page distillation—selected by Merwin from fifteen diverse volumes—is a gathering of the best poems from a profound body of work, accented by a selection of distinctive new poems.

As an undergraduate at Princeton University, Merwin was advised by John Berryman to “get down on your knees and pray to the muse every day.” Migration represents the bounty of those prayers. Over the last fifty years, Merwin’s muse has led him beyond the formal verse of his early years to revolutionary open forms that engage a vast array of influences and possibilities. As Adrienne Rich wrote of Merwin’s work: “I would be shamelessly jealous of this poetry, if I didn’t take so much from it into my own life.”

W. S. Merwin is the author of over fifty books of poetry, prose, and translation. He lives in Hawaii, where he raises endangered palm trees.

... Read more

Customer Reviews (5)

5-0 out of 5 stars Better than Expected
Though the title impied there were new poems in this volume, I found some of my favorites, but
didn't notice any new ones. Never mind, they are wonderful, and I liked this book so much, I purchased
a copy for a friend and published poet,who's poet in the schools, Grace Grafton, who is familiar with
Merwin's writing. That made both of us happy.
On a practical level, it is easier to schlep a single volume with you than three of four,when what you
want is 'La crême de la crême.'
Makes a welcome addition to any collection, a great gift to introduce Merwin, and a pleasure to read
the smooth, ariculate poetry that is food for the soul.
Antoinette Constable

5-0 out of 5 stars These many poems by Merwin? Wow and wonderful.
I read one poem by Merwin on [...] which reminded me how much I love his poetry. And that poem(title: Spring Lost?) movedme to get this beautiful book of poems. His poems nourish my spirit and soul. I don't know what I would do without poetry and W.S. Merwin is a master of his craft andthe rich substance within.
Rachelle Benveniste

5-0 out of 5 stars Migration, by W. S. Merwin
This is an excellent book of poetry by the Pulitzer Prize and 2006 National Book Review award winning American poet.
The book itself was in very fine condition and all that I hoped for in content and condition.

5-0 out of 5 stars A solid best-of-the-best addition to poetry shelves.
Winner of the National Book Award in Poetry, Migration: New & Selected Poems collects poems from fifteen different volumes written by W.S. Merwin, one of the most influential modern American poets. Eight of the poems are new, created circa 2004; the rest of this vast compendium offers works that span half a century, to as early as 1952. Experimenting with a wide variety of verbal form and function, the individual compositions of Migration range from momentary mirth to placid insight to storytelling. A solid best-of-the-best addition to poetry shelves. "Glimpse of the Ice": I am sure now / A light under the skin coming nearer / Bringing snow / Then at nightfall a moth has thawed out and is / Dripping against the glass / I wonder if death will be silent after all / Or a cry frozen in another age

5-0 out of 5 stars W.S. Merwin: A Poet of Vision and Connection
At last there is a significantly large volume of the majestic poetry of W.S. Merwin.Not that all of his other volumes of poems published through the years by Copper Canyon Press have been minor: the length of the books does not begin to mimic the towering power of his work.

But here in MIGRATION: NEW & SELECTED POEMS we have enough of his life's work to truly appreciated the fact that he is an exceptional thinker, artist, involved human being, as well as a gifted man of letters.Winning the National Book Award in 2005 this volume belongs in the collection of everyone concerned with great literature and great poetry. Spanning from the past forty odd years of writing, the collection presents some of his finest older works as well as introducing some of the mystical new works that edge him toward Poet Laureate of America. Example:

In the hour that has no friends
above it
you become yourself
star burning in cold heaven
speaking well of it
as it falls from you

by day
with no country
where and at what height
can it begin
I the shadow
singing I
the light

This book is rich in such wonders.Highly recommended.Grady Harp, November 06 ... Read more

6. The Second Four Books of Poems: The Moving Target / The Lice / The Carrier of Ladders / Writings to an Unfinished Accompaniment
by W. S. Merwin
Paperback: 320 Pages (1992-07-01)
list price: US$18.00 -- used & new: US$10.98
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1556590547
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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W.S. Merwin was born in New York City in 1927 and grew up in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. He worked as a tutor in France, Portugal, and Majorca, and has translated from French, Spanish, Latin and Portugese. He has published more than a dozen volumes of orignal poetry and several volumes of prose. Mr. Merwin has been awarded the Tanning Prize, the Pulitzer and Bollingen prizes, the Fellowship of the Academy of American Poets, the Shelley Memorial Award, the Pen Translation Prize, and many other honors. He lives in Haiku, Hawaii.

W.S. Merwin's Second Four Books of Poems includes some of the most startlingly original and influential poetry of the second half of this century, a poetry that has moved, as Richard Howard has written, "from preterition to presence to prophecy."

Other books by M.S. Merwin available from Consortium:
East Window (Copper Canyon Press), 1-55659-091-1
The First Four Books of Poems (Copper Canyon Press), 1-55659-139-X
Flower & Hand (Copper Canyon Press), 1-55659-119-5
... Read more

Customer Reviews (5)

4-0 out of 5 stars Good book of poems by renowned poet
Merwin's second books including the popular The Lice and the Pulitzer winning The carrier of Ladders. An introduction to Merwin writing without full-stops, commas but deep in pauses. Sometimes allegorical, definitely some of the poems especially in The Lice seem to have be written while on LSD but definitely intriguing. I think Carriers of Ladders possesses the most depth. His collection have poems in his books than other poetry collections but the poems are also much shorter seeking impact in brevity of statement. An interesting collection for maybe America's most renowned living poet.

5-0 out of 5 stars Don't know how he does it
I had read "The Carrier of Ladders" in a college class in the 1980s, and recall not being particularly impressed.Clearly, I wasn't ready for Merwin's supremely focused and near-mystical artistry.I purchased this collection recently after hearing a recording of Merwin reading "The Last One" from "The Lice."What is most remarkable is his ability to express the most complex thoughts in simple language, and often, in very short pieces.By that I mean, there are probably no words in any of these poems that would not be readily understood by an intelligent ten-year-old.Merwin's sentence structure and imagery, however, are of the highest order, and merit the most careful reading to fully absorb his meaning.The overall effect is so unique and astonishing, as to be akin to magic, especially in the later books when Merwin eschews punctuation.After reading these remarkable works, I have no doubt as to Merwin's place in the canon of great poets.

5-0 out of 5 stars very thought provoking
this book was like merwin pouring his heart and soul onto paper, evoked emotions and memories of long ago!

5-0 out of 5 stars If looking to define the feeling haunting you, read on.
I suggest reading on, because I have a small but appropriate few sentences to write about Merwin. I first came across Merwin when I was assigned to find a poet I liked who was still living for a poetry class. That is tosay, not living for my poetry class in particular, but, a poet still alive,so my known favorites, Solomon of the Superlative Song, William Morris,Eugene Fields or Henry W. Longfellow, writers of, among other things nurseyrhymes from my chldhood, nor John Keatsfulfilled this alive requirement. As a result, I found myself looking to the song lyrics of the 60s and 70sI'd listened to growing up, my father being a pseudo-hippie, him notknowing that I was actually listening to the words. I say this because itis precisely this music which encouraged me to look into poetry.Unfortunately, my professor was not about to accept song lyrics from JethroTull or Queen, though members of the bands might still be living, which wasgood for me, or I never would have discovered Merwin. It was the first timeI opened a book of poetry andfound what I was feeling written the way Ithought. Suddenly whatever feelings merely drifting at the edges of mysubconscious which I had no real way of dealing with were right there onthe page before me as though someone had read my mind. It was not eerie, atall, either -- it was just like being an adolescent and literally feelingone's feelings being relayed by rock and roll, or any kind of music for allthe world to hear, and glad someone finally understood and was on yourside. And so you go out and buy the tape, becasue it's like hearing a goodfriend's voice, perhaps one that relieves you of tension, or helps youformulate thoughts on the order of the world and your place in things, afriend to reassure and support you. That's what these poems are like,friends that you can read again and again, and be reassured that there issomeone out there who understands you, and who can voice what you arethinking when you can't, and these revelations you can keep to yourself, ormore likely share with the world, for everyone should have such a friend.

5-0 out of 5 stars "We were not born to survive, only to live." --Merwin
Merwin touches the universal with specifics.Merwin's book bears a simplicity lacking in much of what we do today.His word choice in these poems rarely indicates they were written in the 1970's, but the style is poignantly modern nonetheless.As subjects, Merwin takes nature, aging and friendships.He peppers these with haunting feelings of hollowness, biblical allusions, and the occasional phrase that I cannot reconcile to the poems containing it.With Merwin, though, I remains content and know that a little ambiguity at the edges will keep me returning to the poem year after year. ... Read more

7. The Life of Lazarillo de Tormes (New York Review Books Classics)
Paperback: 144 Pages (2004-12-31)
list price: US$14.00 -- used & new: US$7.07
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1590171322
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Spain has produced two books that changed the course of world literature: Don Quixote and Lazarillo de Tormes. Lazarillo is the first picaresque novel ever written, and to this day, one of the greatest. After its first publication in the 1550s, the book was banned by the Inquisition, but copies surfaced throughout Europe and were widely imitated, even by Cervantes himself. This edition was rendered in English by accomplished translator W. S. Merwin.

Sold to a blind beggar as a child, then passed off to a priest, a squire, a friar, an indulgence-seller, a chaplain, and a constable — each more sadistic and incompetent than the next — the young hero must pilfer and deceive to survive, and is usually punished for his pains. But, like his successors Pinocchio or Huck Finn, Lazarillo endears himself to the reader as he learns to fake miracles and mouse infestations, to expose hucksters and the absurdities of the feudal code of honor. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (4)

5-0 out of 5 stars Looking at the positive in face of adversity
I read this book years ago and really enjoyed it.The stories are full of humor and the ending has a good outlook on life - be happy with what you have because things can always be worse. Life isn't perfect and Lazarillo experiences and explains selfishness and greed in humanity in a voice that knows of what he speaks. This is a very easy and quick read that is hard to put down once you start it.

5-0 out of 5 stars A precursor to Huckleberry Finn
I read this short comic masterpiece as part of a survey course in Spanish and Latin American literature along with more monumental and recognized works of the genre (Cervantes' Don Quijote, Unamuno's Fog, and Garcia Marquez's One Hundred Years of Solitude, to name a few.)

To my surprise, this little tome was the liveliest, most engaging, and by far, the most digestible of the lot (although the other three are indispensable reading and highly recommended as well).

Lazarillo de Tormes ranks as one of the true cornerstones of world literature yet (INHO) it is still riproaringly funny and insightful without being heavy-handed or tedious. Even though I read Lazarillo in Spanish and cannot commment on this translation, I imagine the story would translate without much ado into English. As a first-year Spanish student, I devoured it in a single afternoon.

In many ways, it seems to me to be the precursor to Hucklebery Finn. I came away from reading this short tome with the same sense of empathy for the character of Lazarillo as I had had for Huck Finn. Like HF, the tale of Lazarillo de Tormes is episodic in nature with a series of adventures featuring quirky antagonists who are each (the reader later realizes) satiric portraits of the various social classes of the day (the priest, the gentleman, the beggar thief, etc.) Both books inspired laughter, pathos, sympathy, empathy -- and ultimately, an overarching sense of the flawed yet ultimately endearing human qualities that imbue us all-- and transcend the centuries. Even though Lazarillo de Tormes predates Twain's masterpiece by three full centuries, I found it equally accessible, being a delightful and extremely quick read. In short, it is one of the earliest examples of the proto-novel, and to mymind-- still one of the best.

Highly recommended for all readers of all ages.

3-0 out of 5 stars An historical curiosity
This brief book is something of an historical curiosity by virtue of being (supposedly) "the first picaresque novel ever written."But from the standpoint of contemporary literary interest or reward, it is not particularly noteworthy.Because it satirized the nobility and the Roman Catholic Church -- two powerful institutions of the day (it was published in 1554) -- its author chose to remain anonymous and to this day there is no consensus as to his identity.The chapter on the seller of indulgences, who in league with a constable operates an elaborate charade to con the initially skeptical masses into purchasing indulgences by the fistful, is rather scathing and moderately entertaining.But among modern novels there are countless more cutting and uproarious works that I, with the sensibilities of a literate middle-aged American, would rather read.So, my recommendation is to give this a pass unless you are interested in the history of the novel or the social milieu of Sixteenth-Century Spain and its Inquisition.

5-0 out of 5 stars Inspiring English translation
One of the finest renditions into the English language of the Spanish novel "The Life of Lazarillo de Tormes", the fountainhead of the Picaresque in modern European narration. ... Read more

8. Flower & Hand: Poems, 1977-1983
by W.S. Merwin
Paperback: 175 Pages (1996-10-01)
list price: US$15.00 -- used & new: US$3.49
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1556591195
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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A one-volume compendium by one of the premier poets of the twentieth century and a winner of the Dorothea Tanning Prize includes The Compass Flower, Feathers from the Hill, and Opening the Hand. Original. IP. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (2)

5-0 out of 5 stars 'Flower & Hand': a flower in my hand.
Yes, this book is like a flower in my hand.W. S. Merwin is a master of subtle emotions using mostly images to communicate his meanings.He doesn't hit you over the head with importance, but you get the importance of his poems anyway, if you read and listen carefully.He is very delicate with his words and precise.I highly recommend this book to any one who enjoys poetry.

5-0 out of 5 stars Wonderful poetry
This book is composed of reprints of earlier volumes--as many of Merwin'svolumes are now being combined and republished.The poems are beautifuland thought-provoking.Best are the poems from "The CompassFlower"--some of love, some of nature. A master poet. ... Read more

9. Summer Doorways: A Memoir
by W. S. Merwin
Paperback: 224 Pages (2006-07-28)
list price: US$15.00 -- used & new: US$5.34
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Asin: 159376118X
Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars
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America today is a mobile society. Many of us travel abroad, and few of us live in the towns or cities where we were born. It wasn't always so. “Travel from America to Europe became a commonplace, an ordinary commodity, some time ago, but when I first went such departure was still surrounded with an atmosphere of adventure and improvisation, and my youth and inexperience and my all but complete lack of money heightened that vertiginous sensation,” writes W. S. Merwin. Twenty-one, married and graduated from Princeton, the poet embarked on his first visit to Europe in 1948 when life and traditions on the continent were still adjusting to the postwar landscape. Summer Doorways captures Merwin at a similarly pivotal time before he won the Yale Younger Poets Award in 1952 for his first book, A Mask for Janus—the moment was, as the author writes, “an entire age just before it was gone, like a summer.”
... Read more

Customer Reviews (5)

5-0 out of 5 stars Poised at a Moment of Change
Will be appreciated by most readers possessing a sensitivity to the often-agonizingly-beautiful moments in the passage of time.

This book addresses a time that is lost to us... when post-war Europe was a third world realm.But it coincides with activities of the author (Pulitzer winning poet) who was becoming an adult.

Yeah, it is something of a prose Bolero (the sweet, evenly paced orchestral piece that drives some people crazy), but I loved it.Merwin has an unbelieveably detailed memory, keen appreciation of culture, and delightfully soft touch with syntax.

Really wonderful gift for your favorite nostalgic.

2-0 out of 5 stars Mind-numbingly boring
In my experience, memoir written by writers/poets is among the very best reading out there. Summer Doorways was dull. Far too much description of the places without enough said about the people involved.

5-0 out of 5 stars Elegant
W.S.Merwin has written an elegant memoir of the passing of an age of manners and aristocracy that makes the near past seem far distant.Mr. Merwin states his intention early in the book, and delivers with consumate skill, and unfailing grace.There's nothing shocking here except that such a genteel time existed in the rubble of post-WW II Europe.The milieu and the prose are almost other-worldly, and I think the best way to define it is as a "civilized read."

4-0 out of 5 stars What a summer
Merwin relates, with charming lexis, his background and the circumstances leading up to the summer of his 21st birthday, in 1948, when he was contracted to tutor the nephews of the well heeled and well connected Stuyvesant family. The languid prose floats us across the Atlantic with him and his students. Taking up residence in the a Stuyvesant villa on the Riviera, Merwin meets an amazing group of the literati of Europe and America hobnobbing and living off each other in post War II ravaged Europe.

By summer's end he moves on to his next tutoring stint in a very backward Portugal where he meets kings and queens in exile, peasants, ex-patriots and pretenders to thrones. It is a summer worthy of a Fitzgerald novel, a summer of unexpected adventure and reward, a summer that could not possibly be duplicated. It is a memoir written against the backdrop of the final days of the old European aristocracy. A new order had come to power and the lights were rapidly dimming on the Old Guard.

Merwin imbues his tale, not with nostalgia, but with a sense of tenderness and wonder. His beguiling prose sits on the page as if it were kissed by a butterfly.

2-0 out of 5 stars Closed Door
I did not see the value of this bland memoir. W.S. Merwin is a capable writer but the story he tells here will have little interest to any but close family friends and those particularily keen on this minor author's early career. "Without direction or prospect.." Words taken from the book that seem apt.

(I do rank the book's jacket design by David Bullen as first rate.) ... Read more

10. The Ends of the Earth: Essays
by W. S. Merwin
Paperback: 288 Pages (2005-07-10)
list price: US$15.00 -- used & new: US$8.21
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 159376068X
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Pulitzer Prize winner W. S. Merwin is widely acknowledged as one of the finest living poets. Less well known is the passion and range of his work in prose. For The Ends of the Earth—the Merwin's first new prose collection in more than ten years—he has gathered eight essays that show the breadth of his imagination and sympathy. A memoir of George Kirstein, publisher of "The Nation," stands alongside one of Sydney Parkinson, explorer, naturalist and artist on Captain James Cook's Endeavour. A wonderful portrait of the French explorer of Hawai'i Jean-Francois Galaup de La Perouse is followed by a visit to the Neanderthal skeleton of Boffia Bonneval. There are treks through the Hawaiian forests, to the Holy Mountain of Athos, and with the butterflies in Mexico. For this magical and wondrous journey we have as our guide the excited and concise poet-naturalist, writing at the top of his form. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (2)

4-0 out of 5 stars From the ends of the earth to the end of the earth
W.S. Merwin is better known as a poet, but I for one appreciate his prose writing, both its content and its craftsmanship.THE ENDS OF THE EARTH is a collection of eight essays, three somewhat lengthy (47 to 84 pages) and five shorter ones (9 to 26 pages).

The first in the collection, a warm and literate portrait of Merwin's close friend George Kirstein (for 13 years the owner and publisher of "The Nation"), stands by itself.The remaining seven essays are related in a subtle way.They deal with the monasteries of Mt. Athos, the desecration of the Hawaiian Islands, the winter sanctuaries in Mexico for migrating monarch butterflies, the circumnavigation voyages of Capt. James Cook (1768 to 1771) and Jean-Francois Galaup de La Pérouse (1786 to 1789(?)), and the remains of a Neanderthal discovered in 1908 near La Chapelle-aux-Saints in the Dordogne.

The settings or locales for these seven essays are exotic and far-flung, and in that sense they are "FROM the ends of the earth".But running through them is a strong and silent undercurrent, a theme of evanescence, extending from individual men, to cultures and systems of knowing and ways of life, to entire species.There even is, unvoiced, an apprehension that homo sapiens might precipitate "the end of the earth", at least as we know it as home.

Per usual for Merwin, the writing is excellent.These essays are not exciting and they certainly are not for everyone.But if you enjoy learned and literate essays on esoteric matters, meditative in nature, there is a good chance that you will enjoy THE ENDS OF THE EARTH.

5-0 out of 5 stars A very gratifying book.
The book consists of a series of essays by the poet W.S. Merwyn.

Some of the journeys herein are rambles, and you're not quite sure where Mr. Merwyn is headed. The last paragraph of each, however, ties it all together, and sends your mind a-reeling.

A most worthwhile read by a master! ... Read more

11. Travels
by W.S. Merwin
Paperback: 160 Pages (1994-06-21)
list price: US$17.00 -- used & new: US$9.52
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0679752773
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Amazon.com Review
One may imagine Rimbaud late in life at his Sudanese trading post,composing the sort of poems W.S. Merwin offers in Travels, winner ofthe 1994 Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize. Employing a casually somber prosodyof forward-falling lines and parachuted beginnings, and unified by whatElizabeth Bishop called "Questions of Travel," these poems unwind in longsentences reflecting long ideas. If the universe can be glimpsed in a grainof sand, then to Merwin a life of travel can be evoked by a singlequestion, as when the tropical agriculturist Gregorio Bondar, returningfrom the Amazon to his native Ukraine in "The Moment of Green," is asked,

why he had come home to be shot
which they went on telling him he
seemed to have done and the answer
was something he could no longer
remember now that he was back
where words had always known him.
Swaying between tropic sensuality and spaghetti-western brutality, "TheReal World of Manuel Còrdova" narrates the true story of a Spaniardkidnapped by indigenous Amazon River people. Although he ultimately flees,Còrdova is initiated into mystical knowledge in exchange for becoming hiscaptors' go-between with the West, trading rubber to satisfy a desperatethirst for guns. These and other similar long poems illustrate Merwin'stheme of renewal through danger, while shorter poems find him overcomingfears of becoming lost or regretting culpability in the many ways we poisonthe earth. Sonorous as Poe, restless as Bruce Chatwin, Merwin offers newways of seeing our vulnerable relations with each other and theworld. --Edward Skoog ... Read more

12. The Pupil: Poems
by W.S. Merwin
Paperback: 112 Pages (2002-10-15)
list price: US$15.00 -- used & new: US$8.74
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0375709649
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Hailed by Peter Davison in the Boston Sunday Globe as a poet who “engages the underground stream of our lives at depths that only two or three living poets can match,” W. S. Merwin now gives us The Pupil, a volume of astonishing range and extraordinary beauty: a major literary event.

These are poems of great lyrical intensity, concerned with darkness and light, with the seasons, and with the passing of time across landscapes that are both vast and minutely imagined. They capture the spiritual anguish of our time; the bittersweet joys of vanishing wilderness; anger at our political wrong- doings; the sensuality that memory can engender. Here are remembrances of the poet’s youth, lyrics on the loss of loved ones, echoes
from the surfaces of the natural world. Here, too, is the poet’s sense of a larger mystery:

. . . we know
from the beginning that the darkness
is beyond us there is no explaining
the dark it is only the light
that we keep feeling a need to account for
—from “The Marfa Lights”

Passionate, rigorous, and quietly profound, The Pupil is an essential addition to the canon of contemporary American poetry—a book that finds W. S. Merwin’s singularly resonant voice at the height of its power.

From the Hardcover edition. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (4)

5-0 out of 5 stars Best Merwin yet
Hopefully not to surpass his credentials, I must comment on how wonderful this poetry is. I love it. I keep these poems on the back of my mind at all times just to remember them and how I felt reading them. Merwin is so exceptionally good at copying the moment into our lives through himself, using the poetry of the spirit to communicate something beautiful deep inside of us all.

5-0 out of 5 stars straight opaque
W S Merwin is a great poetic genius, & this book is my favorite of what I've read by him.He writes with uncompromising exactness & economy...& I don't think there's any punctuation in the whole book.The flaring experience of the first poems becomes a kind of alembic or magnifying glass focusing of the physical world into frictionless thinking in the journey to the last few blank pages.Poems such as the waltzingly elliptical "To the Spiders of this Room" & exponentially metaphorical "Flight of Language"...& all the rest...exhibit his lexical mastery; opening lines such as "Mist iridescent over the rice fields", the brilliant imagination.As a sidenote...is the poem "The Marfa Lights" in this book a hark back to James Tate's poem "Marfa"...?

5-0 out of 5 stars A transcendental Experience with one's self
This is one of the greatest books of modern poetry. It is a book for a quiet Sunday afternoon, sitting alone, let the words flow and guide one to the pervading essence. I can't begin to write as wonderful a review as Mr. Pipper wrote. I second everything he said and feel that as impossible as it may seem this poem makes one feel that you the reader are special for the reading of it and one wonders if there is another alien in the universe who can think or feel these words. The pupil is the poet, his childhood musings, not literal but as points of departure to create (what was that wonderful word Pipper used -- "capaciousness") -- yes that's it, a three dimensional experience of time and space. The entire book should really be read from cover to cover as the effect is transforming and accumulative.
Now if you think I said anything, you're as crazy as i am but to experience this poem is to make friends with yourself all over again.

5-0 out of 5 stars If transparency is to survive...
The Pupil does for the brief, meditative lyric what Merwin's Travels did for the elegy and The Folding Cliffs for the historical narrative, and that is to live as perhaps the only examples of those forms to attain the stature of greatness and beauty in the last 25 years.I hope they presage a new possibility in verse, but I don't know of another living poet writing even close to this well out of a faith in the transparency of the word, except maybe some late Creeley.I don't mean this to say that Merwin is dated, more that it must somehow still be possible, since he does it, to write referential poetry and poetry with clearly stated ideas in it without being boring.He often seeems to me like a rarified, or purified, ghost of what used to be considered human to human communication, alive somehow in a space we more remember than encounter, where there were transpersonal signifiers that allowed us to understand something of each other even as we slip away from the understanding and from each other.The poems themselves sometimes function as an elegy for this belief, but I hope it's premature, not eulogy.That said, I find it difficult to write about Merwin, in that his poems seem to mean exactly what they say, to float ethereal and wraithlike in the mind's capaciousness, a loveliness one fears to touch or think about.You can't read these poems if you're nervous, or looking to find impressive things to say about them, or enter Derridean chains of substitution, and in that regard, they become so transparent, so self-evident, as to enter their opposite and become as opaque as reflecting onyx.As much as I hate to say so, they hint toward the belief, normally misguided, that poetry this beautiful has to come from a spiritually realized person.I'd rather just consent to the idea that the defining lines of The Pupil are from the Marfa Lights, about how it is the light, not the darkness, that everyone feels the need to explain, and so here is a collection of poems of darkness like that, the darkness glimpsed in a just opened mouth, the word spoken as music and its reference as perhaps a shadow music in near perfect unison.The only poems that seem to handle this kind of writing this well are Rexroth's meandering mountain and river poems of cloud and light (only with a deeper and quieter engagement with human transiency), and what I'm able to imagine of the great Sung and Tang Chinese masters through the layers of sensibilities, translations and my dictionary Chinese.When reading these poems one is brought into a quiet center, or shadow or seam, between sorrow and beauty that exists through these expressions but cannot be expressed.This poetry is exquisite.I'd strongly recommend you buy it, calm down, and let it work its magic. ... Read more

13. Transparence of the World (A Kagean Book) (French Edition)
by Jean Follain
Paperback: 120 Pages (2003-04-01)
list price: US$14.00 -- used & new: US$6.37
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 155659190X
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Throughout WWII, French poet Jean Follain wrote poems that revisit the provinces of personal and cultural history. His quietly phrased, brief devotions are -described as "miniatures," yet are monumental, capturing the pressure of history upon daily moments. By reducing the world to its small objects, every detail, every image becomes imbued with meaning.

This bilingual volume, celebrating the centennial of Jean Follain's birth, is translated by W.S. Merwin, who writes in his introduction: "Follain's concern is finally with the mystery of the present -- the mystery which gives the recalled concrete details their form, at once luminous and removed, when they are seen at last in their places, as they seem to be in the best of his poems."

... Read more

Customer Reviews (3)

5-0 out of 5 stars Read, Please
This is a work of words adrift in the materiality of their naming, and that world named, presented, standing somehow ahead of, or just beyond, the somehow bearable weight of its recent history.And it's lit up.So it's poignant, yet it is the poignancy of survival, of French and its speakers, as Merwin more or less puts it, weathering the shocks of encountering analogous languages (like English) and the wars' and technological/cultural changes' effacement of the faith in language's power to name, of a word's acquiring intimacy with things through a speaker's familiarity and love.In this book poems, and the worlds they name, are structured by the presentation of lit and resonant details which are held in imagination's vision and historical understanding the details prompt.If Pierre Reverday can recall DiChirico's inhuman isolation, abandoned space, Follain is the mammalian antidote, who, though no less strictly constructed, lightly inhabits his landscapes with intimacy and fondness.This is an absolutely lovely piece of work.Do yourself a favor and read it.

5-0 out of 5 stars Must-have for Follain fans
I'm not always fond of Merwin's verse translations, but he's done a beautiful job on these.Every poem is solidly lineated.They sound as though they'd been written originally in English.The diction always feels right--neither too high nor too low.

If you've never read Follain's verse poems, this is the way to start.His poems manage to be both highly economic and evocative.They are rich and earthly, intellectually precise and "metaphysical" in the sense used by Eliot.

5-0 out of 5 stars Poet and Translator: A Perfect Marriage
Fortunate we are that W.S. Merwin commits as much time to translating other poets from other countries and times as he commits to writing his own magnificent works.His gifts as a poet make him far more than a translator: Merwin finds the seed of intention of the poet's works he embraces and manages to lift the thoughts intact into the English language.

This very fine compilation of the poetry of Jean Follain has been gleaned from nine books of poems, curating the best of Follain's poems into a single heady volume.The poems are brief, address history and the effects of time passing with an economy of words that distill portions of moments into indelibly whispered thoughts.


'How one loves
this great wine
that one drinks all alone
when the evening illumines its coppered hills
not a hunter now
stalks the lowland game
the sisters of our friends
seem more beautiful
at the same time there is a threat of war
an insect pauses
then goes on.'

Read it several times and the atmosphere of World War II in the tremulous French countryside is palpable.And this is only one of many.Merwin allows us the pleasure of reading the poems in both French and English, a fine concept that Copper Canyon Press continues to pursue. A superb collaboration of poetic sharing. Grady Harp, December 06 ... Read more

14. The River Sound: Poems
by W.S. Merwin
Paperback: 144 Pages (2000-08-15)
list price: US$16.00 -- used & new: US$8.89
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Asin: 0375704353
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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A strikingly beautiful book of poems from one of our finest poets, exhibiting his artistry in the style he has made his own. To his lyrics Merwin adds three long narrative poems: "Lament for the Makers" is his tribute to fellow poets who are gone and who had his admiration, from Dylan Thomas to James Merrill; "Testimony" is a tour de force, an autobiographical poem in the manner of Francois Villon; "Suite in the Key of Forgetting" is a remarkable poem about memory and memories. All in all, a masterly work by a major poet.Amazon.com Review
W.S. Merwin is indisputably one of our finest living poets. The two bookspreceding The River Sound (TheVixen and The FoldingCliffs) are nearly flawless. Their thematiccoherence and sustained, lyrical intensity are the culmination of Merwin'ssignature style: long, loping lines--frequently enjambed--with minimal ifany punctuation. In these fluid poems, he has found the ideal form for hispreoccupation with "the open unrepeatable / present."

The River Sound, while thematically building upon thispreoccupation, doesnot quite reach the same stylistic virtuosity, though the book's shorter poemsdoexhibit Merwin's facility for transparently evoking the sensory details ofaparticular place, person, or memory. This rendering is especially poignantbecause many of its poems, such as "227 WaverlyPlace," are about Merwin at 70 taking leave, perhaps for the final time, ofplaces and people that have become a part of him:

When I have left I imagine they will
repair the window onto the fire escape
that looks north up the avenue clear
to Columbus Circle long I have known
the lights of that valley at every hour
through that unwashed pane and have watched with no
conclusion its river flowing toward me
straight from the featureless distance coming
closer darkening swelling growing distinct
speeding up as it passed below me toward
the tunnel all that time through all that time...
Merwin falters, however, when he attempts to merge his open style within atraditional rhyming, iambic structure. In "Testimony," a 60-pageautobiographical poem, the rhyme scheme and the sentiment can occasionallyborder oncliché: "The year I will be seventy / who never could believe myage / still foolish it appears to me / as I have been at every stage..." Yet withinthe context of Merwin's entire body of work, it's well worth reading. --Emily Warn ... Read more

Customer Reviews (3)

5-0 out of 5 stars Making Peace with History and Change
.... William Merwin opens "The River Sound" with songs of praise for the natural world in that familiar voice: his fluid, sonorous blend of elegy and ecstasy, sometimes tinged with bitterness about the earth's degradation at human hands. Like his earlier poems, these rejoice in beginnings--dawns, the freshly wakened spirit, "April with the first light sifting/ through the young leaves," the Hudson River before British explorers arrived. Then Merwin turns his attention to history and aging. As he contemplates the past that shaped him, the people and events he has known begin to resemble "the ancient shaping of water/ to which the light of an hour comes back as to a secret." It seems that the poet of mornings has made a new, personal peace with history and change.

The book is a dazzling collection of poems, wise and playful. "Lament for the Makers" is a series of affectionate, quirky eulogies for poets who influenced Merwin and who died during his lifetime, and a confession of his tendency to see himself (partly because of his early rise to literary fame) as "the youngest on the block." This self-image lasted, he wryly admits, long after "the notes in some anthology/ listed persons born after me." The glorious heart of the book is the moving 60-page "Testimony," a leisurely, often funny family history about reaching an age when "the open unrepeatable/ present in which [we] wake and live" becomes "a still life still alive": at last we "know/ what to do with it." The poet ends "Testimony" by bequeathing treasures (a walk shared, a river heard together, a whole Manhattan city block) to each of his life's companions.

Merwin's sentences often run together without punctuation but (as in other work) not merely to echo the rivers, the music, or the sympathetic imagination winding through his pages. His stream of language invites readers inside it as collaborators in its syntax, listening for the sounds of the phrases in the mind's mouth. This intimate sharing of speech is just one of the great pleasures of "The River Sound," written by a premier American poet at the pinnacle of his craft.

5-0 out of 5 stars Merwin Brings the Past Home
W. S. Merwin just goes on making these beautiful poems that sing of the journey of self into Self, past into present, love into the sublime. He speaks with an individual voice that calls forth our collective voice. These poems are archetypal and personal...the best you can hope to find.

5-0 out of 5 stars Merwin and the Rhythm of Voice
W. S. Merwin has had a long time to develop his unique style of writing. And it's not the average lyricism that draws one to him as a poet; it's the haunting flow of the human voice that lies behind not only the structure ofeach poem but the meter as well. You won't find any punctuation in thisbook. Merwin lends us no helpful guide to reading. Unless you're tuned into the flow of person-speak, it's going to be hard to comes to grips withwhat he's trying to accomplish. Besides his abilities at form, Merwin alsogives us his long autobiographical poem "Testimony." "Lamentfor the Makers" is a medium length poem describing his poeticalinfluences throughout his life. And since "A Mask for Janus"Merwin has been delighting us with his individualized sense of the poetic.He has not failed us with "The River Sound." ... Read more

15. The Vixen
by W.S. Merwin
Paperback: 88 Pages (1997-03-25)
list price: US$17.00 -- used & new: US$10.05
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Asin: 0679766014
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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This major collection, by a major American poet who has been awarded the Marshall, Bollingen, Pulitzer, and other important prizes for mastery of his art, is concerned with the people, countryside, and creatures of southwest France. "Merwin writes, " J.D. McClatchy has said in THE NEW YORKER, "with one of the most distinctive and original voices in American poetry.".Amazon.com Review
Merwin's new book of poems is expectedly dazzling andprofoundly of a piece. It is concerned with the people and thecountryside of the relatively unknown part of southwest France withwhich he has been associated for many years. Part lyrical, partnarrative, these poems are the work of a master. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (2)

5-0 out of 5 stars A Gem
This is a major work, standing towerlike above quite a bit of rubble of the last 80 years.The modern era of American poetry produced some great effects with its wide open experimentation and daring, propelled by Pound and Eliot and carrying through the 1960s.But in recent decades, one might have wondered what a poet was supposed to do next.Every stunt both stylistic and personal had been tried.We produced our own graveyard school of poets whose death notices, usually by suicide or other misadventure, arrived before their major works.

Merwin, who was there too, now demonstrates what a poet still has to do:tell stories, remember the important days, find the connections, and convey it all with deep feeling and conviction.Each poem in this set is a gem of descriptive remembrance, perfectly pitched.Some years ago we had the gift of Robert Penn Warren going into his grand stride in late maturity.Merwin, entering his own bardic phase, teaches us again something of the fruits of maturity, a lesson too infrequently heard in our great continuing national romance with the young and the reckless, the fast life and the beautiful corpse.Reading and hearing him is something more than pleasure and satisfaction -- it is a real need personally and generally.Spread the word.

5-0 out of 5 stars One of Merwin's Best--and Most Original
These moving poems stay with you. With their graceful flatness, many feel like strange, shimmering fragments of narrative; there is an interplay of mystery and revelation that opens onto a new--or forgotten--realm of poeticexperience. ... Read more

16. Unframed Originals: Recollections
by W. S. Merwin
Paperback: 240 Pages (2004-11-30)
list price: US$15.95 -- used & new: US$9.15
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Asin: 1593760345
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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In this haunting, elegantly written memoir, W. S. Merwin recalls his youth, growing up in a repressed Presbyterian household in the small river towns of New Jersey and Pennsylvania. The complex portrait of a family without language or history transforms the story of their isolated lives into the development of a writer’s conscience and a warning about the fate of a middle class eager to obliterate origins. Unframed Originals brings the reader complex and intimate family portraits from an award-winning poet. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (1)

5-0 out of 5 stars Memories of Times Past
Normally, I don't find memoirs that start in early childhood and end shortly after adolescence to be very interesting.They are almost always long on trivia and short on meaningful thoughts and/or observations.However, in the hands of a skillful writer, they can open the portals to times past in a much more direct and readily approachable manner than ordinary history books. The first part of Stefan Zweig's The World Of Yesterday does an especially fine job of conveying the reader into the world of a schoolboy and precocious young intellectual in fin-de-siecle Vienna. (I have heard that the untranslated version of Marcel Proust's great novel The Remembrance of Things Past, A LA Recherche Du Temps Perdu (French Edition), is equally evocative of the same period in France; but I have not been impressed with the English translations to which we monoglots are restricted.)

Through his skillful use of the poet's talents of condensed detail, empathy and lyricism, W. S. Merwin introduces us to the world of his childhood (and slightly later) in a remarkably vivid and immediate manner.While the world of the working class mechanics and yeoman farmers of rural western Pennsylvania, from which his family came, was very far from the precious sensitivity, intellectualism and aestheticism of the Parisian and Viennese salons during the same period, apprehending its unfamiliar world-view widens our knowledge and appreciation of the total human experience

Whereas the expansive world-view from the salons of cosmopolitan and educated Europe was widened and deepened by their great knowledge of other times, other places and other cultures, the view of the working class American at the turn of the century was greatly constrained by relative poverty and ignorance.Working class children left their one room school (usually taught by someone with a 12th grade education) somewhere around the 6th grade to go to work on the farm, the mine or the factory.Most farmhouses had two books: The Bible and the Sears-Roebuck Catalog.Merwin's father was considered a success because he had some college, was able to become a Presbyterian minister for small congregations in Pennsylvania and New Jersey, and could afford to buy a car.The memoir is peopled by a variety of characters, some kind and thoughtful, some mean and self-absorbed, some stable, some unhinged to a greater or lesser degree, some clever, some dull - but all brought to life by the author.

Whether or not you find entering such a world interesting will depend largely on your own background and age.Since my immediate ancestors were of the same class and period (slightly more to the west and the south geographically), I recognized the milieu and the personae.And I have many unframed photographs of rough and simple relatives, uncomfortable in the brave new world of automobiles, electric lights, telephones, the wireless, store-bought clothes and noisy, crowded streets.Even if your family's story is different, acquiring a knowledge of the world inhabited by a large part of the American populace prior to WWII will be helpful in understanding the spirit of the times.

Also, it is beautifully written - a work of art in of and by itself.

... Read more

17. Poetry as Labor and Privilege: The Writings of W. S. Merwin
by Edward J. Brunner
Hardcover: 352 Pages (1991-08-01)
list price: US$44.95 -- used & new: US$34.99
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0252017757
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18. W. S. Merwin (Bloom's Major Poets)
Library Binding: 119 Pages (2004-06)
list price: US$31.95 -- used & new: US$7.09
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Asin: 0791078884
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19. W. S. Merwin: Essays on the Poetry
Hardcover: 424 Pages (1987-01-01)
list price: US$34.95 -- used & new: US$14.50
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Asin: 0252012771
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20. The Mays of Ventadorn (National Geographic Directions)
by W.S. Merwin
Hardcover: 184 Pages (2002-06-01)
list price: US$20.00 -- used & new: US$5.57
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0792265386
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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W.S. Merwin, one of the great contemporary English-language poets, turns to prose here in a brilliantly evocative re-creation of a distant past—as well as an exquisite rendering of his own romance with an abandoned farmhouse in the magical countryside of Southwest France. The Mays of Ventadorn: Tales from Southwest France illuminates the origins of the famous 12th-century Provencal troubadours, beginning with the great Bernart de Ventadorn whose work Merwin first encountered as a young translator of the archaic language known as Old Occitan. The timeless beauty of the troubadours’ pastoral songs and narrative poems has enabled them to survive for 900 years, far outlasting the language from which they sprang.

As he reveals the lyrical pleasures in Southwest France’s medieval courts, Merwin also acquaints readers with the ruins of the chateau of Ventadorn, Bernart’s home, as well as the elegantly careworn farmhouse that the poet himself has owned for decades. Merwin brings a sense of historical continuity to his narrative as he writes of how the warm enchantments that distinguish the farmhouse, the local patois, and the area’s rural traditions are in many respects the direct progeny of the troubadours’ storied culture and language of old.

... Read more

Customer Reviews (2)

4-0 out of 5 stars a small gem
This is a delightful look at a wonderful place and a marvellous cast of characters by one of our most talented living poets.I don't usually find myself yearning to move to France, but after reading The MAYS I couldn't help myself! Merwin's language is uniformally beautiful & he makes both his people and his places come alive. I also enjoyed both the fragments of songs that Merwin translates for us and his discussion of the difficulties of translation -both across language and across time. My one critique (and the loss of a star) is that I wanted more.Each time I felt that the "story" was REALLY going to start we would shift gears & go somewhere else or talk about someone else, and after a while I gave up hoping for any conclusion or resolution. This may be the product of some arbirary editorial length (I note that the book is part of a travel series) but in any case it is a pity, as I could easily have read twice as much on half as many troubadors!

5-0 out of 5 stars Enchanting
If you ever wondered if medieval poetry and the lives of the people who wrote it was in some way intimidating or academic, `The Mays of Ventadorn`provides a truely unique way of experiencing it.W.S. Merwin, in his charateristic style, brings to life Ventadorn (places and personalities) the center of the troubadour universe by weaving his own personal relationship with the region, the era and its poets.This book is a wonderful journey through Merwin's experience and how he has found value and meaning in the troubadours -- It will leave you wanting more poetry and a plane ticket to Southwest France. ... Read more

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