The Moon Before Morning

The Moon Before Morning

by W. S. Merwin
     
 

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“Merwin’s masterfully refined, meditative poems stem from his dwelling mindfully in one beloved place and handling words as though they are seeds, flowers, stones, and water… Merwin has attained a transcendent and transformative elevation of beaming perception, exquisite balance, and clarifying beauty.”—Booklist, starred review of

Overview

“Merwin’s masterfully refined, meditative poems stem from his dwelling mindfully in one beloved place and handling words as though they are seeds, flowers, stones, and water… Merwin has attained a transcendent and transformative elevation of beaming perception, exquisite balance, and clarifying beauty.”—Booklist, starred review of The Moon before Morning

"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."—Helen Vendler, The New York Review of Books

"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

"Merwin [is] fresh and awake with a simplicity that can only be called wisdom."—Publishers Weekly, starred review

An elaboration and response to his Pulitzer Prize-winning The Shadow of Sirius, W.S. Merwin examines everything from minute flowers to oceanic destruction, and weaves our complex relationship with the natural world with his own youth, memory, and intense engagement with the passing of days. With considered reverence, subtle might, and generous poetic imagination, Merwin presents a masterful and gorgeous collection.

From "Wild Oats":

All the beads have gone
from the old string
and the string does not miss them

I needed my mistakes
in their own order
to get me here

In my youth I believed in somewhere else
I put faith in travel
now I am becoming my own tree

W.S. Merwin is one of the country's best-selling poets. He served as Poet Laureate of the United States, and his three most recent poetry collections each received a major award, including the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Award, and the Bobbitt Award from the Library of Congress. He lives in Hawaii.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
02/24/2014
This two-time Pulitzer winner returns with an expansion on his previous collection, The Shadow of Sirius, where themes of age, memory, childhood, and man’s relationship to the natural world again dominate his signature unpunctuated, plainspoken lines: “As the dream of summer is almost gone/ I wake to a beloved dream of autumn/ the love of my life is with me.” Here, Merwin recounts a life lived in relation to an outer world that is slowly being erased: “Where I dug the logs into the rise/ to make the steps along the valley/ I forget how many years ago/ their wood has dissolved completely now/ disappearing into the curled slope.” In this erasure he discovers a world irrevocably changed, almost unrecognizable: “Youth is gone from the place where I was young/ even the language that I heard here once.” But this displacement and confusion—“Ghosts of words/ circle the empty room”—are Merwin’s opening to a new and hard-won sense of beauty, a kind of worldly astonishment: “it may be that the sound of a city/ is the current music of vanishing/ naturally forgetting its own song.” (Mar.)
Library Journal
07/01/2014
Former U.S. Poet Laureate (2010–11) and two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Merwin returns this year with a new collection (after The Shadow of Sirius). Here, he does not pretend to be hip or quirky or aloof or to adapt any other trending style; instead he is once again himself, the image poet who with his own brand of unpunctuated form technically bests anyone writing poems today barring C.K. Williams and a few others. Shadows are here, of course, as are other obsessions such as birds and wind from which Merwin creates myths, reminding readers of his oft-anthologized "The Last One," as he does best in section two with "Only Sparrows" ("the sparrows of morning/ did not remember/ the evening sparrows") and "On a Distant Shore" and others, turning the "memory poem" inside out of its narrative sleeve and giving it a universal dark Merwinian quality. VERDICT Consume these works slowly and if possible out of order. Merwin's narrative scope is characteristically narrow. Read in succession, then, the poems here may seem similar. Part of the joy, though, is in hearing Merwin's voice repeat themes throughout the book as if cast each time afresh in new shadows. [See Prepub Alert, 11/18.13.]—Stephen Morrow, Hilliard, OH

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781556594533
Publisher:
Copper Canyon Press
Publication date:
03/18/2014
Pages:
120
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 9.10(h) x 0.70(d)

Meet the Author


W. S. Merwin: W.S. Merwin served as Poet Laureate of the United States and has received every major literary accolade, including two Pulitzer prizes, most recently for The Shadow of Sirius (Copper Canyon) and the National Book Award for Migration: New and Selected Poems (Copper Canyon).

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