THE DRUNK IN THE FURNACE by W.S. Merwin

THE DRUNK IN THE FURNACE

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KIRKUS REVIEW

This slim volume boasts its best poetry in the first relatively long section- one consecrated to the ocean theme. Effective through content rather than poetic expression or form, the author achieves several of those moods commonly evoked by the sea and its atmosphere, seeming to emulate -- with less than partial success -- the trancelike quality and magnetism of an ""Ancient Mariner"":- It is regrettable, however, that Merwin feels so confident in the use of blank verse as to virtually dispense with all attempt at poetics beyond the formation of uneven lines as opposed to paragraphs, and in so doing, throws verse to the winds and produces prose of occasional strength, but not beauty, and certainly not poetry. Divided by subject matter, rather than formal sections, the remainder of the book succeeds in transmitting undeclared bitterness and irony through occasionally philosophic projections from childhood reminiscence; and as the pieces progress, the reader cannot but wonder at the author's impunity in attaching poetic assumptions to what is neither more nor less than physically rearranged prose -- and often uninspiring prose at that. One feels that the author's claim to a reading audience would be validated by a frank reappraisal of work and a transition from unpoetic ""poetry"" to stream-of-consciousness and impressionistic prose.

Publisher: Macmillan