America today is a mobile society. Many of us travel abroad, and few of us live in the towns or cities where we were born. It wasn’t always so. “Travel from America to Europe became a commonplace, an ordinary commodity, some time ago, but when I first went such departure was still surrounded with an atmosphere of adventure and improvisation, and my youth and inexperience and my all but complete lack of money heightened that vertiginous sensation,” writes W. S. Merwin. Twenty-one, married and graduated from Princeton, the poet embarked on his first visit to Europe in 1948 when life and traditions on the continent were still adjusting to the postwar landscape. Summer Doorways captures Merwin at a similarly pivotal time before he won the Yale Younger Poets Award in 1952 for his first book, A Mask for Janus—the moment was, as the author writes, “an entire age just before it was gone, like a summer.”
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"The pleasure of this journey is that Merwin shares his eyes and ears with us - without telling us what to think." —New York Times
W. S. MERWIN is the author of more than forty books of poetry, prose, and translation, including The Carrier of Ladders, for which he received the Pulitzer Prize in poetry. He has been honored with the Bollingen Award, the first Tanning Award, the Ruth Lilly Prize, and many others. He has lived for many years in Hawai’i.
“Merwin is as refined and entrancing a prose stylist as he is a poet…His splendidly detailed and sensuous descriptions (what a memory he has), especially of postwar Europe, are redolent in mood and precious historically. And he takes great pleasure in turning intriguing, exquisitely crafted portraits and anecdotes into lustrous recollections that capture lost time and trace the making of a poet.” —Booklist
“Masterful: a refreshing break from our tell-all world.” —Kirkus
“In recollecting his adventures, Merwin adopts a lyrical style, vividly evoking memories of locales and situations. Readers will grow with him and feel, as he did, that a provincial can indeed become a poet.” —Library Journal
“In 34 brief, dreamy chapters, esteemed American poet and translator Merwin meanders back to the late 1940s and early 1950s summers of his youth and inexperience… Merwin’s book traces lost worlds.” —Publishers Weekly