Here is the first volume in a definitive, career-spanning two-volume edition of the poems of the former U.S. Poet Laureate, which is also available as a deluxe boxed set, The Collected Poems of W. S. Merwin (described below). Oracular and elegant, W. S. Merwin's poetry reveals a heightened sense of what is essential to human consciousness: the fragile framing of nature, the mysteries of memory and perception, the inescapable fact of our mortality. In a career spanning seven decades-- from his brilliant emergence as the winner of the Yale Younger Poets' Prize in 1952 to his recent term as U.S. Poet Laureate--he has fashioned a poetics unmistakably his own, marked by a stripped-down, unpunctuated style that foregrounds his responsiveness, spiritual insights, and facility with unadorned, elemental language. Now, with this two-volume edition, Merwin becomes only the second living poet to have his work collected by The Library of America. Here are such landmark books as his debut volume A Mask for Janus (1952), which shows the young poet engaged in a fruitful dialogue with Auden and Berryman; The Lice (1967), with its impassioned political poems about the Vietnam War and ecological catastrophe; The Vixen (1996), which offers vivid recollections of southwestern France; the epic verse vel The Folding Cliffs (2008), set in nineteenth-century Hawaii; and The Shadow of Sirius (2008), with its late poems / that are made of words / that have come the whole way / they have been there.
J. D. McCLATCHY, editor, is the author of seven collections of poems, three books of prose, and thirteen original libretti performed around the world. He has edited numerous works, including editions of the poetry of James Merrill and Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. He teaches at Yale University, where he is the editor of the Yale Review.