Degree Year

1984

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts

Department

English

Advisor(s)

David Young
Stuart Friebert
John Hobbs

Keywords

W.S. Merwin, Language, Poetry

Abstract

In this paper, I hope to examine Merwin's ultimately successful quest for such a language and such a myth. Beginning with a brief description of his early work, in which the problem of language becomes a seemingly insuperable barrier to an understanding of the world, I wish to demonstrate his gradual evolution of a poetic voice which is both contemporary and universal. Of course, a study of this length will inevitably be marred by a certain amount of over-generalization and simplification. Merwin's struggle with language has been a long and arduous one, and he has explored many byways on the journey which we will simply not be able to investigate. However, I trust that this summary of the major stages of Merwin's poetic development, with a special concentration on the poems which mark its fruition, will provide a cogent introduction to his response to the unique poetic problems of his time, as well as offer some insights as to the achievement of his work.

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