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W. S. Merwin (William Stanley Merwin) Biography

(1927– ), (William Stanley Merwin), A Mask for Janus, The Dancing Bears, Green with Beasts

poems world poet song

American poet, born in New York City, educated at Princeton University where he established an enduring friendship with Galway Kinnell. His books of poems include A Mask for Janus (1952), The Dancing Bears (1954), Green with Beasts (1956), The Drunk in the Furnace (1960), The Moving Target (1963), The Lice (1967), The Carrier of Ladders (1970; Pulitzer Prize), Writings to an Unfinished Accompaniment (1973), The Compass Flower (1977), Finding the Islands (1982), Opening the Hand (1983), and The Rain in the Trees (1988). Like his earliest mentor Ezra Pound, Merwin is a student of Romance languages, and has become one of the most accomplished translators of poetry in the second half of the twentieth century with versions of The Poem of the Cid (1959), The Satires of Perseus (1961), The Song of Roland (1963), Transparence of the World: Poems of Jean Follain (1969), Voices: Selected Writings of Antonia Porchia (1969), Pablo Neruda, Twenty Love Poems and a Song of Despair (1969), and Selected Poems of Osip Mandelstam (with Clarence Brown, 1974). Merwin's prose works include Regions of Memory, Uncollected Prose, 1949–1982 (1987), edited by Ed Folsom and Cary Nelson. Merwin's central subject is language itself, both in terms of the necessary precision required to write at all, and the difficulties of naming the parts of the world without making that process an act of appropriation. A major poet of great technical virtuosity, his vision of the human condition is not reassuring, though his search for the means to relate our experiential world to that of nature, myth, and primary creation is bleakly impressive.

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