Cover image for The Mays of Ventadorn
The Mays of Ventadorn
Merwin, W. S. (William Stanley), 1927-
Publication Information:
Washington, D.C. : National Geographic, [2002]

Physical Description:
159 pages : map ; 21 cm.
Subject Term:
Added Corporate Author:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
DC611.L732 M47 2002 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

On Order



Pulitzer-prize winning poet W.S. Merwin traces the origins of the troubadours in 12th century Provance as he relates his own experience as a frequent visitor to southern France in this striking memoir, for the National Geographic Directories series. W.S.Mervin, one of the century's great American poets, turns his lyrical eye to the legacy of the Troubadours of southern France. Merwin expertly tells the story of these medieval poets, artists whose songs have survived for centuries and have outlived the culture and even the language in which they were written. For Merwin, it is very personal exploration, as he shares with the reader his love of the French countryside and of the old fermhouse that became his home for decades. The rural society he sees as direct progeny of the almost mythical Troubadour culture serves as the story's romantic background.

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

One of the finest senior U.S. poets stunningly evokes in prose the fabled romance and dark beauty of southwestern France. Seemingly channeling the troubadour spirit of the region, Merwin paints broad, but strikingly detailed, landscapes with his words, using language itself as a main character. He intermingles his personal experiences in the region with the songs of twelfth-century troubadours, illustrating superbly the flexibility of time in the historical cocoon of this ancient and endlessly resurrected locale. Often the prose sounds like poetry, and few other travel writings could aspire to the miraculously transporting quality of these crystalline sentences. The reader feels the restorative effects of this region and its poetry on Merwin, and cannot help but be touched. Like the songs of his troubadours, this little book soothes the soul while keeping the senses wide awake. Will Hickman.