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Selected Translationsby W. S. Merwin
Synopses & Reviews
"Mr. Merwin is an undisputed master."—The New York Times
"Merwin writes that the act of translation is 'plainly impossible and nevertheless indispensable.' We can be grateful that he feels compelled to master the impossible. . . . And that gift alone is priceless."—The Wichita Eagle
Selected Translations is the lifework from one of America's greatest poets and translators. Dedicated to the art of translation since his undergraduate years at Princeton, Poet Laureate W.S. Merwin achieved an unmatched oeuvre of translated poems from every corner of the earth, from dozens of languages. This massive achievement is an essential volume for every library, public and private.
From "In Praise of Darkness":
Translated from the Spanish of Jorge Luis Borges
Old age (as others refer to it)
can be the season of our good fortune.
The animal has died, all but the dying.
What remains is the man and his spirit.
I live among vague luminous shapes
that have not yet become darkness . . .
W.S. Merwin was US Poet Laureate from 20102011. He won the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry twice, most recently for The Shadow of Sirius (Copper Canyon Press, 2009), and the National Book Award for Migration: New and Selected Poems (Copper Canyon Press, 2005). Author and translator of over fifty books, Merwin lives in Hawaii and France.
"Were Merwin not one of America's most admired poets (his honors include two Pulitzers and a term as U.S. poet laureate) he would still be as famous as translators get: for more than 50 years and for more than 50 volumes, Merwin has rendered, sensitively and carefully, canonical poets such as Mandelstam and Neruda, traditional songs and sayings from Peru to Madagascar, Latin satire, medieval romance, Japanese haiku, and more. This third selection from Merwin's translations (the first since 1978) might double as an introduction to poetry from the non — English — speaking world, so widely does it range, from India to Alaska, from the folk poetry of Korea ('Nobody notices hunger/ but they never miss dirt') to the careful sophistication of Dante. Lovers of Merwin's own poetry will not be surprised to see how many pages bear an elegiac or a wistful cast, and yet the many forms and languages represented really have helped Merwin, as he says in his substantial autobiographical introduction, 'accommodate something new' to his American English tongue. The arrangement of poems avoids both strict chronology and segregation by language group; instead, we find clusters of related poems, with frequently used languages (such as Spanish and French) parceled out through the book. Traditional poems have a particular attraction, as do the language and culture of Spain: 'Little pearl, suit yourself when you marry,' advises one Spanish folk rhyme; 'your parents will die/ and won't come from the other world/ to see if you're happy.' And yet long works (like the Middle English 'Patience') and sophisticated moderns fit his gifts, too: if anyone can make a big hit out of a book of translations from all over, Merwin ought to be the one." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
Selected Translations is the crowning achievement for one of the world's greatest and most prolific translators of poetry. Absolutely essential.
About the Author
W.S. Merwin: W.S. Merwin, U.S. Poet Laureate from 201011, won the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry twice, most recently for The Shadow of Sirius (Copper Canyon, 2009), and the National Book Award for Migration: New and Selected Poems (Copper Canyon, 2005). Author and translator of over fifty books, Mr. Merwin lives in Hawaii and France.
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