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Hailed by Peter Davison in the Boston Sunday Globe as a poet who “engages the underground stream of our lives at depths that only two or three living poets can match,” W. S. Merwin now gives us The Pupil, a volume of astonishing range and extraordinary beauty: a major literary event.
These are poems of great lyrical intensity, concerned with darkness and light, with the seasons, and with the passing of time across landscapes that are both vast and minutely imagined. They capture the spiritual anguish of our time; the bittersweet joys of vanishing wilderness; anger at our political wrong-doings; the sensuality that memory can engender. Here are remembrances of the poet’s youth, lyrics on the loss of loved ones, echoes from the surfaces of the natural world. Here, too, is the poet’s sense of a larger mystery:
. . . we know
from the beginning that the darkness
is beyond us there is no explaining
the dark it is only the light
that we keep feeling a need to account for
— from “The Marfa Lights”
Passionate, rigorous, and quietly profound, The Pupil is an essential addition to the canon of contemporary American poetry—a book that finds W. S. Merwin’s singularly resonant voice at the height of its power.