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Present Company

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 11, 2005

    On Merwin: Words of Praise Fail

    How does one write critically about the abundant beauty of the poetry of W.S. Merwin? Long acclaimed as one of our most poignant and important poets, his newest collection is an endless stream of homages to fleeting thoughts, ideas, and other delicacies encounter by the informed eye and heart. Merwin keeps his language simple but continues to prod our senses with challenging concepts. In these one hundred odd poems he wanders through our perceptions and imaginations and strikes chords familiar and foreign, all with the flowing beauty of his carefully molded words. These poems seem to be odes, not so much to people as to natural matters and objects and notions. In 'To a Falling Leaf in Winter': 'At sundown when a day's words/ have gathered at the feet of the trees/ lining up in silence/ to enter the long corridors/ of the roots into which they/ pass one by one thinking/ that they remember the place/ as they fell themselves climbing/ away from their only sound/ while they are being forgotten/ by their bright circumstances/ they rise through all the rings/ listening again/ afterward as they/ listened once and they come/ to where the leaves used to live/ during their lives but have gone now/ and they too take the next step/ beyond the reach of meaning.'There are no adequate descriptives for Merwin's gifts. They are simply there for the savouring of those with quiet hearts to read and hear. Highly recommended. Grady Harp

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