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The River Sound: Poems
by W. S. Merwin
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0375704353, Paperback)W.S. Merwin is indisputably one of our finest living poets. The two books preceding The River Sound (The Vixen and The Folding Cliffs) are nearly flawless. Their thematic coherence and sustained, lyrical intensity are the culmination of Merwin's signature style: long, loping lines--frequently enjambed--with minimal if any punctuation. In these fluid poems, he has found the ideal form for his preoccupation with "the open unrepeatable / present."
The River Sound, while thematically building upon this preoccupation, does not quite reach the same stylistic virtuosity, though the book's shorter poems do exhibit Merwin's facility for transparently evoking the sensory details of a particular place, person, or memory. This rendering is especially poignant because many of its poems, such as "227 Waverly Place," are about Merwin at 70 taking leave, perhaps for the final time, of places and people that have become a part of him:
When I have left I imagine they willMerwin falters, however, when he attempts to merge his open style within a traditional rhyming, iambic structure. In "Testimony," a 60-page autobiographical poem, the rhyme scheme and the sentiment can occasionally border on cliché: "The year I will be seventy / who never could believe my age / still foolish it appears to me / as I have been at every stage..." Yet within the context of Merwin's entire body of work, it's well worth reading. --Emily Warn
(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:26:30 -0400)
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