Results of the Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize in the year 1994.
Merwin is a major figure in our poetry, one of the few. His first book of verse in five years is an event. It is a very full selection with many sides: brief lyrics and long narratives, all of them marked by a moving and profound sense of the natural world and the presence in it of living creatures. Merwin’s language is entirely his own, and his control of it and of the construction of his poems makes for breathtaking work of enduring quality. The narratives are a departure for this poet, dealing as they do with historical figures: “Rimbaud’s Piano” is an extended meditation on the poet; others deal with naturalists such as William Bartram, Georg Eberhard Rumpf (“The Blind Seer of Ambon”), and David Douglas; and in “The Real World of Manuel Cordova” he tells a story almost as enthralling as Conrad’s Heart of Darkness.