The Essential W.S. Merwin

W. S. Merwin

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“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:


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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