Poetry Book Society Recommendation
W.S. Merwin was 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 a love letter composed in a stunning rush of memory. Answering the call set forth in The Shadow of Sirius (2009), which won him his second Pulitzer Prize, Merwin extends the emotional and intellectual reach of that collection with passionate reverence for the natural world, bittersweet reflection on time’s irrevocable ravages, and equanimity informed by a lifetime of writing and practised contemplation.
Merwin’s studied precision in form and language filters crisp, beautiful images through ethereal memory, forging an intense bond between the writer and a quickly transforming world. ‘When we forget,’ Merwin writes, others will remember: no action or spirit on Earth is without its infinite reverberations.
The Moon Before Morning is a book of drive, finesse and astonishing beauty...There are few great poets alive at any one time, and W.S. Merwin is one of them. Read him while he is still contemporary' – Fiona Sampson, Guardian
‘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’ – David Biespiel,
‘Merwin points his oracular, unpunctuated poems toward his own past, admitting, "I have only what I remember", and offering what may be his most personal, generous and empathic collection. Somehow, he manages to dissolve the boundaries between one time and another, seeming to look forward to the past or remember what has yet to happen… Gorgeous poems about enduring love melt time as well, looking toward a moment when we will be no older than we ever were’ –
W.S. Merwin talks about writing poetry and about meeting Ezra Pound when he was 18 and still at college and Pound was in the psychiatric ward at St Elizabeth's Hospital. He then reads 'Late Spring', a poem included in his Bloodaxe
Selected Poems. This film is from the Academy of American Poets DVD The Poet's View: Intimate Profiles of Five Major American Poets, which features Kay Ryan, John Ashbery, Louise Glück, Anthony Hecht and W.S. Merwin: