The Shadow of Sirius

The Shadow of Sirius

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by W. S. Merwin
     
 

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Winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry

Featured on NPR's "Fresh Air" and "The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer" on PBS.

Honored as one of the "Best Books of the Year" from Publishers Weekly.

"A collection of luminous, often tender poems that focus on the profound power of memory." —Pulitzer Prize Committee

"In his personal anonymity, his strict

Overview

Winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry

Featured on NPR's "Fresh Air" and "The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer" on PBS.

Honored as one of the "Best Books of the Year" from Publishers Weekly.

"A collection of luminous, often tender poems that focus on the profound power of memory." —Pulitzer Prize Committee

"In his personal anonymity, his strict individuated manner, his defense of the earth, and his heartache at time's passing, Merwin has become instantly recognizable on the page; he has made for himself that most difficult of creations, an accomplished style." —Helen Vendler, The New York Review of Books

“Merwin is one of the great poets of our age.”—Los Angeles Times Book Review

"[The Shadow of Sirius is] the very best of all Merwin: I have been reading William since 1952, and always with joy." —Harold Bloom

"[Merwin's] best book in a decade—and one of the best outright... The poems... feel fresh and awake with a simplicity that can only be called wisdom." —Publishers Weekly, starred review

"Merwin's gentle wisdom and attentiveness to the world are alive as ever. These deeply reflective meditations move through light and darkness, old love and turning seasons to probe the core of human existence." —Orion

"[The Shadow of Sirius] shows the earthly possibilities of simple completeness in a writer's mature work. More than an achievement in poetry, this is an achievement in writing." —Harvard Review

The nuanced mysteries of light, darkness, presence, and memory are central themes in W.S. Merwin’s new book of poems. “I have only what I remember,” Merwin admits, and his memories are focused and profound—the distinct qualities of autumn light, a conversation with a boyhood teacher, well-cultivated loves, and “our long evenings and astonishment.” In “Photographer,” Merwin presents the scene where armloads of antique glass negatives are saved from a dumpcart by “someone who understood.” In “Empty Lot,” Merwin evokes a child lying in bed at night, listening to the muffled dynamite blasts of coal mining near his home, and we can’t help but ask: How shall we mine our lives?

somewhere the Perseids are falling
toward us already at a speed that would
burn us alive if we could believe it
but in the stillness after the rain ends
nothing is to be heard but the drops falling

W.S. Merwin, author of over fifty books, is America’s foremost poet. His last two books were honored with major literary awards: Migration won the National Book Award, and Present Company received the Bobbitt Prize from the Library of Congress.

Editorial Reviews

Stephen Burt
As in all of his verse since the late 1960s, Merwin does away with punctuation, letting line breaks and sense determine syntax and pace. The results suggest whispers, laments, accounts of long-ago memories, even voices from an underworld
—The New York Times
Library Journal

Having published over 50 books since 1952, Merwin could be excused for resting on his laurels. Instead, he continues to work hard, here offering poems clearly formed in a refiner's fire. "Somewhere the Perseids are falling/ but in the stillness after the rain ends/ nothing is to be heard but the drops falling." Wisely, without bitterness, these poems capture that essential stillness.


—Barbara Hoffert

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781556593109
Publisher:
Copper Canyon Press
Publication date:
10/01/2009
Edition description:
Reprint
Pages:
130
Sales rank:
607,080
Product dimensions:
6.04(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.40(d)

Meet the Author

W.S. Merwin is the author of over fifty books of poetry, prose, and translations. He has earned every major literary prize, most recently the National Book Award for Migration: New and Selected Poems. He lives in Hawaii where he raised endangered palm trees.

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The Shadow of Sirius 3.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 6 reviews.
Christianexistentialist More than 1 year ago
I am a poetry lover and got introduced to Merwin through a reading on the Writer's Almanac and an interview of WS on NPR. This work is a capstone and an elegant tapestry of a man embracing life in later years - reflecting back to remembered scenes and relationships and writing forward to his own demise. Merwin is neither nostalgic nor sentimental but his words paint real pictures that draw on universal human experiences as filtered through his own life. Read slowly and enjoy as meditation. WS - thanks for letting us in!
Monastic_Vow More than 1 year ago
A few months ago I was reading Merwin's Collected Poems qand I enjoyed the experience. I was not, however, expecting a new collection. Then I heard Terry Gross interview the author on Fresh Aire and was charmed. I rushed right out to The King's English (a grand independent bookshop in Salt Lake City) and snapped it up. I'm reading it now. I don't know why, but Merwin's poems bring out a deep resonance in my voice when I read them aloud--a very different voice for me. I'll post a more thoughtful review later. I'm looking forward to a slow and joyous read.
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