The River Sound
By W.S. Merwin
(Knopf, Paperback, 9780375704352, 144pp.)
Publication Date: August 15, 2000
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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.
W. S. Merwin was born in New York City in 1927 and grew up in Union City, New Jersey, and in Scranton, Pennsylvania. From 1949 to 1951 he worked as a tutor in France, Portugal, and Majorca. He has since lived in many parts of the world, most recently on Maui in the Hawaiian Islands. His many books of poems, prose, and translations are listed at the beginning of this volume. He has been the recipient of many awards and prizes, including the Fellowship of the Academy of American Poets (of which he is now a Chancellor), the Pulitzer Prize in Poetry, and the Bollingen Prize in Poetry; most recently he has received the Governor's Award for Literature of the state of Hawaii, the Tanning Prize for mastery in the art of poetry, a Lila Wallace-Reader's Digest Writers' Award, and the Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize.