The Shadow of Sirius

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WS Merwin may be the most influential American poet of the last half-century - an artist who has transfigured and reinvigorated the vision of poetry for our time. Bloodaxe published his Selected Poems in 2007. Now 81, Merwin has produced 'his best book in a decade - and one of the best outright' ( Publishers Weekly ). The nuanced mysteries of light, darkness, presence, and memory are central themes in his latest collection. 'I have only what I remember,' Merwin admits, and his memories are focused and profound - the distinct qualities of autumn light, a conversation with a boyhood teacher, well-cultivated loves, and 'our long evenings and astonishment'. In Photographer , Merwin presents the scene where arm loads of antique glass negatives are saved from a dump cart by 'someone who understood'. In Empty Lot , Merwin evokes a child lying in bed at night, listening to the muffled dynamite blasts of coal mining near his home, and we can't help but ask: How shall we mine our lives?