The Shadow of Sirius

W.S. Merwin

Winner of the 2009 Pulitzer Prize in Poetry. Mysteries of light, darkness, temporality, and eternity interweave throughout W.S. Merwin’s celebrated collection of poems, The Shadow of Sirius. “I have only what I remember,” Merwin admits, and his memories are focused and profound—Pennsylvania miners and neighborhood streetcars, a conversation with a boyhood teacher or deceased parent, the distinct qualities of autumnal light and gentle rain, well-cultivated loves, and “our long evenings and astonishment.” From the universe’s contradictions, Merwin once again calls upon the unexpected to illuminate existence.

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ISBN: 9781556593109

Format: Paperback

ISBN: 9781556592843

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To Paula in Late Spring

Let me imagine that we will come again
when we want to and it will be spring
we will be no older than we ever were
the worn griefs will have eased like the early cloud
through which the morning slowly comes to itself
and the ancient defenses against the dead
will be done with and left to the dead at last
the light will be as it is now in the garden
that we have made here these years together
of our long evenings and astonishment

About the Author

W.S. Merwin was born in New York City in 1927 and was United States Poet Laureate in 2010. He graduated from Princeton University in 1948, where he studied with John Berryman and R.P. Blackmur. From 1949 to 1951 he worked as a tutor in France, Mallorca, and Portugal; for several years afterward he made the greater part of his living by translating from French, Spanish, Latin, and Portuguese. His first book of poetry, A Mask for Janus (1952) was selected …

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“I’ve drawn inspiration from Merwin’s writing because it teaches us about ourselves, our world, and how we as humans connect to nature.” —Barack Obama

“A collection of luminous, often tender poems that focus on the profound power of memory.” —Judges’ citation, Pulitzer Prize

“Merwin’s best book in a decade—and one of the best outright… fresh and awake with a simplicity that can only be called wisdom.” —Publishers Weekly, starred review

“In his personal anonymity, his strict individuated manner, his defense of the earth, and his heartache at time’s passing, Merwin has become instantly recognizable on the page.” —Helen Vendler, New York Review of Books

“[Merwin’s] long lines are rarely end-stopped, so that from the starting gate of one capital letter the language runs away with no visible bridle, interrupted only by the spaces between words and ordered only by syntax. Read aloud, Merwin’s phrases are so natural and clear that one wonders why he hasn’t gotten rid of the spaces too, and printed his poems in a solid block of undifferentiated text, like an ancient manuscript.” —Commonwealth

“The Shadow of Sirius contains many poems that are deeply imagined, strongly crafted, and filled with wisdom and feeling.”—Georgia Review

“It’s Merwin’s ability to turn the mundane into the magical that makes him a special poet. He asks us to look again and listen again to the world around us.” —Jonathon Bastian, Time Out Literary Critic

“… this quintessential Merwin conveys existence with unabashed praise and revelation… Sirius is known as the brightest star in the sky, and as the title suggests, such raging brightness casts a deep shadow. Merwin’s poems are just that—the veil behind a luminous burning.” —Hollins Critic


Pulitzer Prize in Poetry, 2009