Best Selling Books by WS Merwin

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release date: Jul 03, 2012
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Walden and Civil Disobedience
Henry David Thoreau reflects on life, politics, and society in these two inspiring masterworks.

In 1845, Thoreau moved to a cabin that he built with his own hands along the shores of Walden Pond in Massachusetts. Shedding the trivial ties that he felt bound much of humanity, Thoreau reaped from the land both physically and mentally, and pursued truth in the quiet of nature. In Walden, he explains how separating oneself from the world of men can truly awaken the sleeping self. Thoreau holds fast to the notion that you have not truly existed until you adopt such a lifestyle—and only then can you reenter society, as an enlightened being.
 
These simple but profound musings—as well as “Civil Disobedience,” his protest against the government’s interference with civil liberty—have inspired many to embrace his philosophy of individualism and love of nature. More than a century and a half later, his message is more timely than ever.
 
With an Introduction by W.S. Merwin
and an Afterword by Will Howarth
release date: Dec 26, 2006
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Twenty Love Poems and a Song of Despair (Spanish and English Edition)
The most popular work by Chile's Nobel Prize-winning poet, soon to be the subject of Pablo Larraín's acclaimed feature film Neruda starring Gael García Bernal

When it appeared in 1924, this work launched into the international spotlight a young and unknown poet whose writings would ignite a generation. W. S. Merwin’s incomparable translation faces the original Spanish text. Now in a black-spine Classics edition with an introduction by Cristina Garcia, this book stands as an essential collection that continues to inspire lovers and poets around the world.

For more than seventy years, Penguin has been the leading publisher of classic literature in the English-speaking world. With more than 1,700 titles, Penguin Classics represents a global bookshelf of the best works throughout history and across genres and disciplines. Readers trust the series to provide authoritative texts enhanced by introductions and notes by distinguished scholars and contemporary authors, as well as up-to-date translations by award-winning translators.
release date: May 30, 2017
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The Lice

This Fiftieth Anniversary edition celebrates one of the most ground-breaking books in American poetry. When first published in 1967, W.S. Merwin’s The Lice was ground-breaking. Its visionary urgency directly engaged the nexus of aesthetics and morality, exerting an immediate and lasting effect on the writing and reading of poetry. Like all great art, this monumental work continues to inspire.

As Merwin discussed in an interview, “The Lice was written at a time when I really felt there was no point in writing. I got to the point where I thought the future was so bleak that there was no point in writing anything at all. And so the poems kind of pushed their way upon me. I would be out growing vegetables and walking around the countryside when all of a sudden I’d find myself writing a poem, and I’d write it.”

When the War is Over

When the war is over
We will be proud of course the air will be
Good for breathing at last
The water will have been improved the salmon
And the silence of heaven will migrate more perfectly
The dead will think the living are worth it we will know
Who we are
And we will all enlist again

W.S. Merwin is one of America’s greatest poets. His recent books of poems have been honored with a Pulitzer prize, a National Book Award, and the Bobbitt Prize from the Library of Congress. He lives in Hawaii.

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release date: Mar 30, 2004
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Sir Gawain and the Green Knight
A splendid new translation of the classic Arthurian tale of enchantment, adventure, and romance, presented alongside the original Middle English text.

It is the height of Christmas and New Year’s revelry when an enormous knight with brilliant green clothes and skin descends upon King Arthur’s court. He presents a sinister challenge: he will endure a blow of the axe to his neck without offering any resistance, but whoever gives the blow must promise to take the same in exactly a year and a day’s time. The young Sir Gawain quickly rises to the challenge, and the poem tells of the adventures he finds—an almost irresistible seduction, shockingly brutal hunts, and terrifyingly powerful villains—as he endeavors to fulfill his promise.

Capturing the pace, impact, and richly alliterative language of the original text, W. S. Merwin has imparted a new immediacy to a spellbinding narrative, written centuries ago by a poet whose name is now unknown, lost to time. Of the Green Knight, Merwin notes in his foreword: “We seem to recognize him—his splendor, the awe that surrounds him, his menace and his grace—without being able to place him . . . We will never know who the Green Knight is except in our own response to him.”


From the Hardcover edition.
release date: Jan 28, 2017
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Garden Time
W.S. Merwin is arguably the most influential American poet of the last half-century - an artist who has transfigured and reinvigorated the vision of poetry for our time. An essential voice in modern American literature, he was United States Poet Laureate in 2010-11. This new collection written in his late-80s finds him deeply immersed in reflection on the passage of time and the frailty and sustaining power of memory. Telegraphing between past and present, he shows us a powerful and moving vision of the eternal, focusing on images of mornings, sunsets, shifting seasons, stars, birds and insects to capture the connectedness of time, space and the natural world. In a poem about Li Po, 'now there is only the river / that was always on its own way'. In another poem he dreams that 'the same river is still here / the house is the old house and I am here in the morning / in the sunlight and the same bird is singing'. He remembers when 'dragonflies were as common as sunlight / hovering in their own days' and recalls 'a house that had been left to its own silence / for half a century'. In a poem of wonder entitled 'Variations to the Accompaniment of a Cloud', he writes: 'I keep looking for what has always been mine / searching for it even as I / think of leaving it.'
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release date: Sep 12, 2017
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The Essential W.S. Merwin

“Merwin is one of the great poets of our age.”—Los Angeles Times Book Review

“Merwin has become instantly recognizable on the page; he has made for himself that most difficult of all creations, an accomplished style.”—Helen Vendler, New York Review of Books

“It is gratifying to read poetry that is this ambitious, that cares about vision and the possibilities of poetry, by a poet who is capable of so much change.”—The Nation

Essential means just that: A deeply considered selection from W.S. Merwin’s vast oeuvre that represents the poems—and a few select pieces of prose—that readers will cherish today, tomorrow, and into the next century. This incisive, slender collection draws only the best of the best from the work Merwin published over his sixty-year writing career. A teeming, resonate, exuberant testament of a rare, revolutionary, and deeply rewarding poet.

And what better way to honor those thousands of poems that are not in The Essential by highlighting an aphoristic poem that is:

Separation

Your absence has gone through me
Like thread through a needle.
Everything I do is stitched with its color.

Since launching his career by winning the Yale Younger Poets Award 1952, W.S. Merwin has written and translated sixty books of poetry and prose and won every major literary prize this country has to offer. He lives in Hawaii, within the palm forest where he wrote, “On the last day of the world I would want to plant a tree.”

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release date: Jun 25, 2013
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Collected Haiku of Yosa Buson

"Lovers of haiku will rejoice at the arrival of this book, the first complete translation of the collected haiku of Yosa Buson...rendered into English with obvious care and devotion...Through Buson we realize what haiku is best at expressing—this moment's experience, bare facts, simple observations, elegant statements of 'thus-ness.'"—Inquiring Mind

“Having W.S. Merwin and Takako Lento as co-translators of this book is close to ideal, and this is the best English translation of haiku that has ever been published. Their English translations are accurate and poetic and there is nothing better for introducing this great poet.”—Donald Keene, Anahorish Japanese Literature

"For a translator to be faithful and readable, as Mr. Merwin always is, is no small achievement."—The New York Times

"From Latin to Russian to Japanese, translator [W.S. Merwin]'s oeuvre suggests an intrepid quality as well as a scrutinizing sympathy."—Boston Review

This is the first complete bilingual (Japanese/English) translation of the Buson Kushu, a comprehensive collection of the haiku of Yosa Buson (1716–83). Buson's haiku brim with paradox: they are bawdy yet delicate, sparse yet powerful. W.S. Merwin and Takako Lento worked for a decade to co-translate these poems into English-language versions as luminous as the original Japanese. An essential volume of world literature.

"187"

keisei wa
nochi no yo kakete
hanami kana

Courtesans come out
to see the cherry blossoms
as though they were betting on their next life

Yosa Buson (1716–1783) was one of the great poets of Japan's Edo period. His work is technically adroit and finely attuned to visual details. A true maverick of interdisciplinary arts, Buson was also founder of the haiga—a small watercolor or black-and-white painting bordered by a haiku.

W.S. Merwin was US Poet Laureate from 2010–11 and won his second Pulitzer Prize for The Shadow of Sirius (Copper Canyon Press, 2009) and the National Book Award for Migration: New and Selected Poems (Copper Canyon Press, 2005). He lives in Hawaii and France.

Co-translator Takako Lento holds an MFA in poetry and translation from the Iowa Writers' Workshop.


release date: Sep 01, 2007
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Migration: New & Selected Poems

Named one of the 100 Notable Books of the Year by The New York Times.

Winner of the National Book Award for Poetry

Named by O as one of the "20 Books of Poetry Everyone Should Own"

“The poems in Migration speak a life-long belief in the power of words to awaken our drowsy souls and see the world with compassionate interconnection.”—National Book Award judges’ statement

“The publication of W. S. Merwin’s selected and new poems is one of those landmark events in the literary world.”—Los Angeles Times

W. S. Merwin is the most influential American poet of the last half-century—an artist who has transfigured and reinvigorated the vision of poetry for our time. Migration: New and Selected Poems is that case. This 540-page distillation—selected by Merwin from fifteen diverse volumes—is a gathering of the best poems from a profound body of work, accented by a selection of distinctive new poems.

As an undergraduate at Princeton University, Merwin was advised by John Berryman to “get down on your knees and pray to the muse every day.” Migration represents the bounty of those prayers. Over the last fifty years, Merwin’s muse has led him beyond the formal verse of his early years to revolutionary open forms that engage a vast array of influences and possibilities. As Adrienne Rich wrote of Merwin’s work: “I would be shamelessly jealous of this poetry, if I didn’t take so much from it into my own life.”

W. S. Merwin is the author of over fifty books of poetry, prose, and translation. He lives in Hawaii, where he raises endangered palm trees.


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release date: Jul 31, 2003
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In Parenthesis (New York Review Books)
"This writing has to do with some things I saw, felt, and was part of": with quiet modesty, David Jones begins a work that is among the most powerful imaginative efforts to grapple with the carnage of the First World War, a book celebrated by W.B. Yeats and T.S. Eliot as one of the masterpieces of modern literature. Fusing poetry and prose, gutter talk and high music, wartime terror and ancient myth, Jones, who served as an infantryman on the Western Front, presents a picture at once panoramic and intimate of a world of interminable waiting and unforeseen death. And yet throughout he remains alert to the flashes of humanity that light up the wasteland of war.
release date: Dec 01, 2015
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The Moon Before Morning

"Merwin has attained a transcendent and transformative elevation of beaming perception, exquisite balance, and clarifying beauty."—Booklist, starred review

"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."—Poetry

"Merwin is tackling the mysteries of life and impending death with a grace and dexterity of imagination that leaves one of any age wondering if this is more than simply poetry, but bordering on prophecy."—Eliot Schain, Poetry Flash

Two-time Pulitzer winner W.S. Merwin is one of the best-selling poets in America. In his new book, The Moon Before Morning, 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 collection.

From "Antique Sound":

There was an age when you played the records
with ordinary steel needles which grew blunt
and damaged the grooves or with more expensive
stylus tips said to be tungsten or diamond
which wore down the records and the music receded
but a friend and I had it on persuasive authority
that the best thing was a dry thorn of the right kind
and I knew where to find one of those…

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, and the National Book Award for Migration: New and Selected Poems.

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