Cover image for The river sound : poems
The river sound : poems
Merwin, W. S. (William Stanley), 1927-
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : A.A. Knopf : Random House [distributor], 1999.
Physical Description:
viii, 133 pages ; 25 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
PS3563.E75 R58 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



A poet known for his lyrics adds three long narrative poems to his collection--Lament for the Makers, a tribute to fellow poets; Testimony, an autobiographical work; and Suite in the Key of Forgetting, about memories and memory.

Author Notes

Poet W. S. Merwin (William Stanley Merwin) was born on September 30, 1927 in New York City. He attended Princeton University. He has authored over fifteen books of poetry and some of those titles include "The River Sound" (Alfred A. Knopf, 1999), which was named a New York Times notable book of the year; "The Vixen" (1996), which won the Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize; "The Carrier of Ladders" (1970), which won the Pulitzer Prize; and "A Mask for Janus" (1952), which was selected by W. H. Auden for the Yale Series of Younger Poets. Merwin won a second Pulitzer Prize for Poetry for The Shadow of Sirius (published in 2008). He has also published books of translation, which include Dante's Purgatorio, numerous plays and books of prose.

Some of Merwin's honors include the Aiken Taylor Award for Modern American Poetry, the Bollingen Prize, the Governor's Award for Literature of the State of Hawaii, the Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize, the PEN Translation Prize, the Shelley Memorial Award, the first Tanning Prize and a Lila Wallace-Reader's Digest Writers' Award. He also received fellowships from the Academy of American Poets, the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Rockefeller Foundation and a Ford Foundation Grant.

He is a Chancellor of The Academy of American Poets and received a five-year term as judge of the Yale Series of Younger Poets.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 1

Booklist Review

Merwin has always been prolific, but poetry is flowing through his veins at an extraordinary pace these days. The Folding Cliffs , a book-length poem about Hawaii, is still hot on the shelf as this substantial new collection arrives. Merwin remains steeped in the narrative mode and tells stories of self, the earth and its rivers, plants, and animals without once sacrificing the music of poetry. Some talking poems seem to roll in from the realm of myth; concise lyrics praise nature, and extended narrative poems evince a deep intimacy with time and memory. Merwin remembers dead poets with awe and tenderness in "Lament for the Makers," and considers the spirit of France in "Suite in the Key of Forgetting," then, in "Testimony," which streams for more than 50 philosophic pages, he looks back on his life, an episodic remembrance knit to the aura of place. And there's more: a new edition of his elegant, long-out-of-print translations of Asian poets, East Window (Copper Canyon, 1998), is now available. (Reviewed February 15, 1999)0375404864Donna Seaman



WAVES IN AUGUST There is a war in the distance with the distance growing smaller the field glasses lying at hand are for keeping it far away I thought I was getting better about that returning childish wish to be living somewhere else that I knew was impossible and now I find myself wishing to be here to be alive here it is impossible enough to still be the wish of a child in youth I hid a boat under the bushes beside the water knowing I would want it later and come back and would find it there someone else took it and left me instead the sound of the water with its whisper of vertigo terror reassurance an old old sadness it would seem we knew enough always about parting but we have to go on learning as long as there is anything THE CAUSEWAY This is the bridge where at dusk they hear voices far out in the meres and marshes or they say they hear voices the bridge shakes and no one else is crossing at this hour somewhere along here is where they hear voices this is the only bridge though it keeps changing from which some always say they hear voices the sounds pronounce an older utterance out of the shadows sometimes stifled sometimes carried from clear voices what can be recognized in the archaic syllables frightens many and tells others not to fear voices travellers crossing the bridge have forgotten where they were going in a passage between the remote and the near voices there is a tale by now of a bridge a long time before this one already old before the speech of our day and the mere voices when the Goths were leaving their last kingdom in Scythia they could feel the bridge shaking under their voices the bank and the first spans are soon lost to sight there seemed no end to the horses carts people and all their voices in the mists at dusk the whole bridge sank under them into the meres and marshes leaving nothing but their voices they are still speaking the language of their last kingdom that no one remembers who now hears their voices whatever translates from those rags of sound persuades some who hear them that they are familiar voices grandparents never seen ancestors in their childhoods now along the present bridge they sound like dear voices some may have spoken in my own name in an earlier language when last they drew breath in the kingdom of their voices Excerpted from The River Sound: Poems by W. S. Merwin All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.