W. S. Merwin Essay - W. S. Merwin American Literature Analysis

W. S. Merwin American Literature Analysis

The poetry of W. S. Merwin is diverse in its form and content and has been well received since his first publication, A Mask for Janus. As stated above, Merwin’s early poetry is traditional and formal. These poems are in regular formal measures and employ conventional rhetorical devices; the tone is distant and sophisticated; the voice is cultivated. Even more popular patterns, such as the ballad form in “Ballad of John Cable and Three Gentlemen,” are formalized: This is a literary ballad, alluding to medieval folk-song tradition.

Merwin’s second volume, The Dancing Bears, is also predominantly formal. Its touchstone poem, “East of the Sun and West of the Moon,” recasts the traditional folk...

(The entire section is 3461 words.)