A powerful case can be made for declaring W.S. Merwin the most influential American poet of the last half-century. Migration: New & Selected Poems is that case.
As an undergraduate at Princeton, Merwin was advised by John Berryman to Âget down on your knees and pray to the muse every day.â Over the last 50 years, Merwinâs muse led him beyond the traditional verse of his early years to revolutionary open forms that engaged a vast array of influences and possibilities. As Adrienne Rich wrote of W.S. Merwinâs work, ÂI would be shamelessly jealous of this poetry, if I didnât take so much from it into my own life.â
The definitive volume from Âone of Americaâs greatest living poets.âÂThe Washington Post Book World
"The poems in Migration speak from a life-long belief in the power of words to awaken our drowsy souls and see the world with compassionate interconnection."ÂCitation from the National Book Award judges"
The publication of W. S. Merwinâs selected and new poems is one of those landmark events in the literary world... Merwin is one of the great poets of our age."ÂLos Angeles Times Book Review
"[I]t's hard to believe this rich selection represents the work of just one man."ÂPublishers Weekly
"[In] any landscape, Merwin stands tall."ÂPhiladelphia Inquirer
"Complex, spiritual, and evocative, Merwin is a major poet, and this is a sublime measure of his achievements."ÂALA Booklist
"Migration: New and Selected Poems gathers Merwinâs personal harvest of his fifty-year oeuvre into one magisterial volume."ÂThe Wichita Eagle
"Many of us have followed W.S. Merwinâs work book by book, collection by collection.Â He has created a body of wisdom literature that is unprecedented in our age. I feel lucky to be alive at a time when W.S. Merwin has been creating his startling and incomparable work."ÂEdward Hirsch, introduction to ÂA Tribute to W.S. Merwinâ
"The trajectory of Merwinâs work is meteoric: its greatest flashes of beauty and insight are the product of traditional poetic impulses breaking up under the pressures of our atmosphere... he has written some of the most powerful poems in the language against our speciesâ murderous sense of self-importance."ÂJacket
"W. S. Merwin's legacy is unquestionably secure: his best and most fierce poems are moody, visionary compositions that dive into the unconscious and the seeds of existence with an inwardness and scrutiny unique in American poetry."ÂPoetry
From Once in Spring
A sentence continues after thirty years
it wakes in the silence of the same room
the words that come to it after the long comma
existed all that time wandering in space
as points of light travel unseen through ages
of which they alone are the measure and arrive
at last to tell of something that came to pass
before they ever began or meant anything
Poet and translator W.S. Merwin has received nearly every major literary accolade, including the Pulitzer Prize, Tanning Prize and Bollingen Prize. He has long been committed to artistic, political and environmental causes in both word and deed; when presented with the Pulitzer Prize, he donated the prize money to artists and the draft resistance. He currently lives in Hawaii, where he cultivates endangered palm trees.
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