Trinity University Press

W. S. Merwin


W. S. Merwin is the author of more than fifty books of poetry and prose, translation, and plays. His recent collections include The Shadow of Sirius, which won the 2009 Pulitzer Prize (his second), Migration: New and Selected Poems, which won the 2005 National Book Award, and Present Company. His first book of poetry, A Mask for Janus, won the 1952 Yale Younger Poets Prize, selected by W. H. Auden. His other honors include the Lannan Literary Award for Lifetime Achievement, the Aiken Taylor Award for Modern American Poetry, the Bollingen Prize, a Ford Foundation grant, the Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize, the Dorothea Tanning Prize, the PEN Translation Prize, the Shelley Memorial Award, the Wallace Stevens Award, and a Lila Wallace-Reader’s Digest Writers’ Award, as well as fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Academy of American Poets, and the Rockefeller and Guggenheim Foundations. He has served as aU.S. special consultant in poetry and aU.S. poet laureate. In 2013 Merwin was named the first laureate of the Zbigniew Herbert International Literary Award in Warsaw. A dedicated environmentalist, he has spent the last thirty years planting nineteen acres with over 800 species of palm, creating a sustainable forest that is now the Merwin Conservancy. He lives on the island of Maui, in Hawai‘i.


Unchopping a Tree

There’s no mystery to chopping down a tree. But how do you put back together a tree that’s been felled? Mystical instructions are required, and that’s what W. S. Merwin provides in this prose piece. Written with a poet’s grace, an ecologist’s insights, and a Buddhist’s reverence for life, this elegant work describes the difficult, sacred job of reconstructing a tree. Step by step, page by...

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