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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W. S. Merwin is one of our most distinguished poets and translators and is the acting United States Poet Laureate. A two-time recipient of the Pulitzer Prize, he has also been honored with the Bollingen Prize and a Fellowship of the Academy of American Poets. In 1995 he received the first Dorothea Tanning Prize. He lives and works in Hawaii.