Migration: New & Selected Poems

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Winner of the National Book Award

A New York Times "100 Notable Books of the Year"

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 “get down on your knees and pray to the muse every day.” Over the last 50 years, Merwin’s ...

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Overview

Winner of the National Book Award

A New York Times "100 Notable Books of the Year"

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 “get down on your knees and pray to the muse every day.” Over the last 50 years, Merwin’s 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. Merwin’s work, “I would be shamelessly jealous of this poetry, if I didn’t take so much from it into my own life.”

The definitive volume from “one of America’s greatest living poets.”—The 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."—Citation from the National Book Award judges"

The publication of W. S. Merwin’s selected and new poems is one of those landmark events in the literary world... Merwin is one of the great poets of our age."—Los Angeles Times Book Review

"[I]t's hard to believe this rich selection represents the work of just one man."—Publishers Weekly

"[In] any landscape, Merwin stands tall."—Philadelphia Inquirer

"Complex, spiritual, and evocative, Merwin is a major poet, and this is a sublime measure of his achievements."—ALA Booklist

"Migration: New and Selected Poems gathers Merwin’s personal harvest of his fifty-year oeuvre into one magisterial volume."—The Wichita Eagle

"Many of us have followed W.S. Merwin’s work book by book, collection by collection.…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."—Edward Hirsch, introduction to “A Tribute to W.S. Merwin”

"The trajectory of Merwin’s 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 species’ murderous sense of self-importance."—Jacket

"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."—Poetry

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.

Winner of the 2005 National Book Award for Poetry

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Mystical formalist, elegant romantic, Vietnam-era protester, translator, maker of sweet memoirs and uneasy dreamscapes, and ecological activist, Merwin has been so prominent for so long that it's hard to believe this rich selection represents the work of just one man. The earliest Merwin-a melancholy 1950s craftsman-gets the first 70 pages, including the bejeweled verse fairy tale "East of the Sun and West of the Sun." The haunting free verse of the next two decades includes the sad, urgent protest poems of The Lice (1967) and the Pulitzer Prize-winning The Carrier of Ladders (1970). Merwin's attraction to instinct and mystery drew his poems toward totemic, resonant images, in lines which imitated chants and prayers. The Rain in the Trees (1988) concerned the forests and coasts of Hawaii, where the poet still lives. His longer, more recent works offer personal memories; "Testimony" (from 1999's The River Sound) takes 56 pages to run through the poet's whole life. Even there-and in the few, lyrical, controlled new poems at the very end of the volume-Merwin retains a sense of terse whispering, and a graceful attraction to silence; his verse comes, if anyone's does, from "the eye of the mind where we know/ from the beginning that the darkness/ is beyond us." (Apr.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
Elegant yet evocative, intellectually challenging yet utterly uninterested in experimental excess, the poems in this collection represent Merwin's efforts to perfect his craft over five fruitful decades. "What you do not have you will find/ everywhere," and you will find everything here. A National Book Award winner. (LJ 3/1/05) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781556592188
  • Publisher: Copper Canyon Press
  • Publication date: 4/1/2005
  • Pages: 534
  • Product dimensions: 6.20 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 1.40 (d)

Meet the Author

W.S. Merwin is one of America's leading poets. His prizes include the 2005 National Book Award for his collected poems, Migration, the Pulitzer Prize, the Stevens Award, and fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and Lannan Foundation. He is the author of dozens of books of poetry and translations. He lives in Hawaii, where he cultivates endangered palm trees.

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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 30, 2006

    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: LARK In the hour that has no friends/ above it/ you become yourself/ voice/ black/ star burning in cold heaven/ speaking well of it/ as it falls from you/ upward/ Fire/ 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

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 19, 2006

    Marvelous

    W.S. Merwin is an amazing writer. I'm grateful that Auden selected his first book of poetry for the Young Yale Series Competition years ago. Merwin is a remarkable writer, touching on subjects of great importance. He writes beautiful lines that are fused with important themes. I am impressed and feel like this is a generous collection. He is inspiring in terms of his insight into the natural world around him. I am pleased to hear that he won an award for this book of new and selected poems. It is superb.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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