Cover image for The ends of the Earth : essays
The ends of the Earth : essays
Merwin, W. S. (William Stanley), 1927-
Publication Information:
Washington, D.C. : Shoemaker & Hoard, [2004]

Physical Description:
278 pages ; 24 cm
The wake of the Blackfish : a memoir of George Kirstein -- Reflections of a mountain -- The tree on One Tree Hill -- Snail song -- The winter palace -- The winter palace revisited -- Name in the sand -- The stone boat.
Subject Term:
Format :


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Item Holds
PS3563.E75 E53 2004 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

On Order



W. S. Merwin is widely acknowledged as one of the finest living poets in English. Less well known is the power and range of his work in prose. For his first new prose collection in more than ten years, The Ends of the Earth, Merwin has gathered eight essays that show the breadth of his imagination and sympathy. A memoir of George Kirstein, publisher of "The Nation," stands alongside one of Sydney Parkinson, explorer, naturalist and artist on Captain James Cook's Endeavour. A wonderfulportrait of the French explorer of Hawai'i, Jean-Francois Galaup de La Perouse is followed by a visit to the Neanderthal skeleton of Boffia Bonneval. There are treks through the Hawaiian forests, to the Holy Mountain of Athos, and with the butterflies in Mexico. For this magical and wondrous journey we have as our guide the excited and concise poet-naturalist, writing at the top of his form.

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 3

Booklist Review

In his poetry, which is treasured the world over, distinguished man of letters Merwin is profoundly attentive to the sensuousness of place and to the way places change over time. These keen interests also inform his essays, and in his first prose collection since The Lost Upland (1992), he adroitly interleaves natural and human history. A shared love of the sea instigated a friendship between Merwin and George Kirstein, former publisher of the Nation, and the ocean seems to shape Merwin's gloriously rolling and rhythmic sentences as he profiles his late friend, as well as Sydney Parkinson--an artist onboard Captain James Cook's first circumnavigation of the earth who inspires Merwin to reflect on our attempts to name and order the natural world--and the French explorer Jean-Francois Galaup de La Perouse, the first European to explore Hawaii. Merwin also vividly chronicles the circumstances currently endangering the flora and fauna of Hawaii and the Mexican wintering grounds of the monarch butterfly. Elegant and erudite, Merwin's humanistic and ecologically astute essays have vision and backbone. --Donna Seaman Copyright 2004 Booklist

Publisher's Weekly Review

This collection by the distinguished poet initially presents a challenge. The opening essay is a memoir of George Kirstein, longtime publisher of the Nation and for even longer a friend of Merwin's. But Kirstein does not come sharply into focus until Merwin shifts from an almost journalistic account of Kirstein's personal history to recounting his firsthand experiences and observations of his friend. The rest of the collection has a very different tone and emphasis. The essay "Reflections of a Mountain" takes the reader on a journey that begins in Venice with "the feeling of stepping-stones sinking under the feet they help to cross" and then moves to the Holy Mountain, with its monasteries and churches, of Athos, which (depending on whom you ask) may or may not be part of Greece. Merwin brings a graceful, unhurried style to his travels through Athos and evokes a landscape imbued with history, meaning, and natural and manmade beauty. This piece is complemented by later essays on the lives and explorations of Sydney Parkinson, the naturalist and artist who sailed with Capt. James Cook, and the travels and travails of the 18th-century French naval officer and explorer Fran?ois Galaup de La Perouse. The Parkinson essay, like two shorter pieces about the plight of the monarch butterfly, occasionally suffers from an academic tone, and the La Perouse piece goes on a little longer than it needs to, but for the most part, these travelers and the natural world that enthralled them make fascinating subjects in Merwin's skillful hands. (May 1) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Merwin, a highly acclaimed poet and winner of numerous prestigious awards, including the Pulitzer Prize, is also an author of prose and a distinguished translator of Spanish and French classics. In this collection of eight new essays-his first book of prose in ten years-Merwin spans the globe and several decades of his life. Following a rather loose unifying theme of exploration and discovery, he writes about Sydney Parkinson, the artist who traveled with Captain Cook aboard the Endeavour, and Frenchman La P?rouse, whose disappearance on his voyage of circumnavigation remained a mystery for almost two centuries.The record of his trek between Orthodox monasteries on Mt. Athos is pure poetry. The book provides access to this very important contemporary author for those who find his poetry too obscure. Essential for academic libraries and other libraries that collect his works.-Maureen J. Delaney-Lehman, Lake Superior State Univ., Sault Ste. Marie, MI (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Table of Contents

The Wake of the Blackfish: A Memoir of George Kirsteinp. 3
Reflections of a Mountainp. 50
The Tree on One Tree Hillp. 134
Snail Songp. 159
The Winter Palacep. 167
The Winter Palace Revisitedp. 190
Name in the Sandp. 199
The Stone Boatp. 266