Degree Year


Document Type

Thesis - Open Access

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts




David Young
Stuart Friebert
John Hobbs


W.S. Merwin, Language, Poetry


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.