A literary event -- a new volume of poems by one of the masters of modern poetry -- The Rain in the Trees is W. S. Merwin's first book since the publication five years ago of his Opening the Hand.
Almost no other poet of our time has been able to voice in so subtle a fashion such a profound series of comments on the passing of history over the contemporary scene. To do this, he seems to have reinvented the poem -- so that the experience of reading Merwin is unlike the reading of any other poetry. In such famous books as The Lice, The Moving Target and (most recently) Opening the Hand, he has produced a body of work of great profundity and power made from the simplest and most beautiful poetic speech.
The poems in this new book are concerned with intimacy and wholeness, and are made of the relations with people, with places, past and present, and with history and how the world endures it.
Merwin can now rightfully be called a master, and this book shows in every way why this is the case.
W. S. Merwin was born in New York City in 1927 and grew up in Union City, New Jersey, and in Scranton, Pennsylvania. From 1949 to 1951 he worked as a tutor in France, Portugal, and Majorca. He has since lived in many parts of the world, most recently on Maui in the Hawaiian Islands.
He has been the recipient of many awards and prizes, including the Fellowship of the Academy of American Poets (of which he is now a Chancellor), the Pulitzer Prize in Poetry, and the Bollingen Prize in Poetry; most recently he has received the Governor's Award for Literature of the state of Hawaii, the Tanning Prize for mastery in the art of poetry, a Lila Wallace-Reader's Digest Writers' Award, and the Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize.