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American poetry

The Collected Poems of W. S. Merwin (two-volume set). Edited by J. D. McClatchy. Library of America, 2013. 1531p. HB, $75.

W. S. Merwin, the Eternal Apprentice

Merwin's awesome range, intensity, and feral strangeness are evident in a new two-volume Library of America edition, beautifully edited by J. D. McClatchy. Nearly 1,500 pages in all, it represents an oeuvre so large as to make Robert Lowell’s prodigious output seem puny.

American Poetry and Poetry Criticism Now

The American poetry scene has not gone back to the days of the midcentury generation—nor should it. It also largely avoids the least attractive development that claimed the intervening years, when the ancient quarrel between philosophy and poetry returned as farce.

Greengrocer

Having made the maze of cartons, bins,
and scales, he moves, aproned, unseen among them,
the architectures his to build and rebuild

House Sparrows

They are here, in the eaves, the clothesline pole,
hayloft—everywhere she looks—and everywhere
she goes they are there before her, in town

Dead and Divine, and Brother of All

On Tuesday, December 16, the New York Herald printed a list of soldiers killed or wounded at Fredericksburg, including an entry for “First Lieutenant G. W. Whitmore, Company D,” of the 51st New York Infantry. It was mid-morning when poet Walt Whitman saw the item and surmised that it referred to his brother George.

Song of Sanity

Walt Whitman was a poet of hope and encouragement, but his greatest poem is bleak at heart, ripped bloody, and shredded with despair. He was our verbal cheerleader, our avid egoist as well as our most enthusiastic inclusionist.

Whitman’s Compost

Walt Whitman, Charles Feinberg Collection, Library of Congress The day Abraham Lincoln was first elected president, the Prince of Wales (later King Edward VII) arrived in Washington, DC, to find, in the words of a British reporter, a “strange ci [...]

The Self in the Poem

Through you I shall be born again; myself again and again; myself without others; myself with a tomb; myself beyond death. I imagine you taking my name; I imagine you saying “myself myself” again and again. And suddenly there will be no blue sky [...]

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