Poet W. S. Merwin To Read On Oct. 13 At The University Of Virginia
October 6, 2005 --
Pulitzer-prize winning poet W.S. Merwin has been writing for about 50 years, not only poetry, but also essays and translations. As the Peters Rushton Visiting Writer at U.Va., he will read from his work at 8 p.m. in the Wilson Hall auditorium on Oct. 13.
The son of a Presbyterian minister, Merwin was born in New York City in 1927 and began writing hymns at the age of five. From 1949 to 1951, he worked as a tutor in France, Majorca and Portugal; for several years afterward he made the greater part of his living by translating from French, Spanish, Latin and Portuguese.
His many awards, besides the Pulitzer in 1970 for “The Carrier of Ladders,” include the Tanning Prize for mastery in the art of poetry (now the Wallace Stevens Award), the Bollingen Award and the Ruth Lily Poetry Prize, as well as fellowships from the Rockefeller and Guggenheim foundations and the National Endowment for the Arts.
Well-known for his anti-Vietnam stance, Merwin also speaks for nature and his adopted homeland of Hawaii. His recent poetry is perhaps his most personal, arising from deeply held anti-imperialist, pacifist and environmentalist beliefs. Author of some 30 books, his latest are “Migration: Selected Poems 1951-2001,” “Present Company” and the memoir, “Summer Doorways.”
Here is a poem by W. S. Merwin
FOR THE ANNIVERSARY OF MY DEATH
Every year without knowing it I have passed the day
When the last fires will wave to me
And the silence will set out
Like the beam of a lightless star
Then I will no longer
Find myself in life as in a strange garment
Surprised at the earth
And the love of one woman
And the shamelessness of men
As today writing after three days of rain
Hearing the wren sing and the falling cease
And bowing not knowing to what
(c) W.S. Merwin, from “The Lice”
Contact: Anne Bromley, (434) 924-6861