Monday, April 12, 2010

what I'm reading

Over at her blog, Kathleen Kirk has been running a series on what people are reading. It’s really interesting, and inspires mucho booklust, and makes me want to put my two cents in.

I usually know that I’m not all that keen on something when the number of books I’m “currently reading” tops three.

I’m at four as of this morning, having started W.S. Merwin’s The Shadow of Sirius. Of the heap I’m sitting on, this is my favorite. I really love Merwin. For one, he’s gorgeous. I also love how his name resembles “Merlin,” because W. is also a sorcerer.

Merwin takes the most basic materials and finds their power, hammering them until they’re . . . until they’re what . . . something eternal. There’s nothing fancy about his word choices, no overly weird layouts on the page, nothing disturbing about the lack of punctuation. It adds to the stream of the thought, and draws you into thinking along with him. There’s no unnatural posing going on. His approach is simple: he relies entirely on the resonant power of language. He writes often of nature but it’s almost degrading to call him a “nature poet.” Has anyone done this? Desist.

I opened the book pretty much daring Merwin to do it again. Surely there couldn’t be more he could say after The Lice, The Rain in the Trees, The Carrier of Ladders, the translations, etc. He can’t make the tired spring or stone or river into something so deep again, can he? Yes, he can.

But Sirius is the brightest, most searing, most serious star. It can be seen in the daylight.

Whenever I think about the Nobel Prize committee complaining about how caught up American writers are with themselves and their culture - and I often agree with them - I want to shout “NOT W.S. MERWIN! Give HIM the Nobel Prize!” Really, he deserves it. I hope he lives long enough for them to realize it.


Kass said...

He sounds wonderful.

Kathleen said...

I have read individual poems by Merwin, not yet a whole book. Now I must! (But when I can just read him, not juggle other things.) Thank you, and I look forward his Nobel Prize!

NE said...

I've heard of Merwin, but then I've been listening....

Related Posts with Thumbnails