The Rain in the Trees

W. S. Merwin, Author Knopf Publishing Group $16.95 (78p) ISBN 978-0-394-57039-6
The sounds of wind and rain and the images of trees and pastures form melancholy leitmotifs in the latest volume of lyrics by this master prosodist. All slight and understated, these poems depend on nuance and the emotional color of Merwin's mellifluous language for their effect. They ask one to imagine a world not patently given here, but only suggested by sudden, fleeting illuminations: they comprise ""a kind of whispered sighing/ not far/ like a night wind in pines or like the sea in the dark/ the echo of everything that has ever/ been spoken/ still spinning its one syllable/ between the earth and silence.'' The love poems in particular are so elusive and wispy they seem hardly to stand alone, but to need each other as a group, as well as a good deal of imaginative participation on the part of the reader. Similarly, his theme of the loss of the archaic earthly Eden through the march of progress is defined by only the vaguest mythical outline. Yet, however muted and minor this collection, one is entranced as ever by the unparalleled discipline of Merwin's silver tongue. (April)
Reviewed on: 03/01/1988
Release date: 03/01/1988
Paperback - 978-0-689-11922-4
Paperback - 96 pages - 978-0-394-75858-9
Hardcover - 978-0-689-11921-7
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