William Stanley Merwin - Biography and Works

William Stanley Merwin is an American poet, essayist and literary translator who has written nearly 50 books of poetry, translations and essays. He is best known for his unique style of writing in indirect and unpunctual narration. He was greatly influenced by the philosophy of Buddhism in 1980s.

William S. Merwin (1927-2019)

He was equally inclined to the ecology of the Maui, Hawaii. He has got many honors like, the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry in 1971 and in 2009), the National Book Award for Poetry  in 2005 and the Tanning Prize, one of the highest honors bestowed by the Academy of American Poets. In 2010, the Library of Congress titled Merwin the seventeenth United States Poet Laureate. He has established himself as the leading contributors of the early 21st century literature.

Merwin graduated from Princeton in 1948 and worked in Europe as a literary translator from 1949 to 1951. His first published book of poems, A Mask for Janus and The Dancing Bears (1954), were formally elegant, influenced by his work translating medieval poetry.

 During the late 1950s, Mervin began to write about ecological issues. He advocated demilitarization and opposed the Vietnam War during the 1960s. In 1963 Merwin abruptly changed the style of his poetry, simplifying his verse, abandoning punctuation, and focusing on post-apocalyptic imagery and themes. He developed this controversial, stripped-down style in several collections of poetry, including The Moving Target (1963). Merwin's poetry became more optimistic during the 1970s, expressing faith in nature's apparent indifference to humanity. In the 1980s Merwin attempted to block land development and advocated the rights of indigenous people in Hawaii. He settled on the island of Maui, planting a miniature forest of endangered trees and growing most of his food himself.

His main works include The River Sound (Alfred A. Knopf, 1999), which received the name a New York Times Notable Book of the Year; The Carrier of Ladders (1970), that gave him the Pulitzer Prize; The Lice (1967); and A Mask for Janus (1952), which was selected by W H Auden for the Yale Series of Younger Poets. He has also published nearly twenty books of translation, including Dante's Purgatorio (2000); numerous plays; and four books of prose, including The Lost Upland (1992), his memoir of life in the south of France.

He is a former Chancellor of The Academy of American Poets and recently began a five-year term as judge of the Yale Series of Younger Poets. He lives and works in Hawaii.

Cite this Page!

Shrestha, Roma. "William Stanley Merwin - Biography and Works." BachelorandMaster, 8 Apr. 2018, bachelorandmaster.com/biography/william-stanley-merwin.html.

Related Topic

Separation: Summary and Analysis