Wednesday, September 21, 2016
Memories Distilled by 2 Radically Different Poets
W. S. Merwin and Adam Fitzgerald are such dramatically different poets that reading their latest books in tandem can induce a feeling of vertigo. Imagine a playlist that squeezed together the music of Nick Drake and Lady Gaga, or think of a loaf of wild-yeast sourdough bread all rainbow-spangled with Pop Rocks. But both books have essential things to say about the movements of memory and loss — about what our minds try to hold on to, and why.
Mr. Merwin, 88, is a former poet laureate who came of age during the golden days of radio. In “Garden Time” he delivers a late-period distillation of the type of lyrics he has been polishing for decades. Unpunctuated, yoked to gentle rhythms, and all the more radiant because of their restrained vocabulary, these are poems that bring the reader back to phrases like “morning light” and “clouds over the mountaintops,” “sun-filled leaves drifting among the butterflies” and “let’s stay home together my love.”