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W. S. Merwin Collection


Held at: Princeton University Library: Manuscripts Division [Contact Us]

This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the Princeton University Library: Manuscripts Division. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in their reading room, and not digitally available through the web.

Overview and metadata sections

Merwin, W.S. (William Stanley), 1927-2019

W. S. (William Stanley) Merwin is one of the most influential American poets of the latter 20th century. Graduating from Princeton University in 1948, Merwin made a name for himself as an anti-war poet during the 1960's. Later, he evolved toward mythological themes and developed a unique prosody characterized by indirect narration and the absence of punctuation. His works include A Masque for Janus (1952), The Carrier of Ladders (1970), which was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry in 1971, and Migration: New & Selected Poems (2005).

The collection consists of selected correspondence, manuscripts, and galley proofs of Merwin. There are nine letters by Merwin to poetry editor Stephen Berg, addressed from France and dating from 10 August 1966 to 19 August 1969. Accompanying his letters are a short autobiographical statement, twenty-one typed poems (mostly carbons), and one prose article entitled "An Open Form" (signed typescript, 2 pp., with holograph corrections) . The poems include "Fear," "A Debt," "It Is March," and "The River of Bees." A galley proof of Merwin's 1963 book of poems called Moving Target includes marginal notations in pencil by Prof. Thomas Roche. In addition, there is one autograph letter by Merwin to Princeton University's recording secretary, Frederick Fox, dated 15 March 1964.

Folders are arranged by accession number.

The collection was formed as a result of a Departmental practice of combining into one collection material of various accessions relating to a particular person, family, or subject.

Correspondence with Steve Berg, poems, and galley purchased on April 9, 1980 (AM80-106, 21779).

For preservation reasons, original analog and digital media may not be read or played back in the reading room. Users may visually inspect physical media but may not remove it from its enclosure. All analog audiovisual media must be digitized to preservation-quality standards prior to use. Audiovisual digitization requests are processed by an approved third-party vendor. Please note, the transfer time required can be as little as several weeks to as long as several months and there may be financial costs associated with the process. Requests should be directed through the Ask Us Form.

This collection was processed by Dina Britain on August 14, 2007. Finding aid written by Traci Ballou-Broadnax on August 14, 2007. Folder Inventory added by Hilde Creager (2015) in 2012.

No appraisal information is available.

Manuscripts Division
Finding Aid Date
Access Restrictions

The collection is open for research.

Use Restrictions

Single copies may be made for research purposes. To cite or publish quotations that fall within Fair Use, as defined under U. S. Copyright Law, no permission is required. For instances beyond Fair Use, it is the responsibility of the researcher to determine whether any permissions related to copyright, privacy, publicity, or any other rights are necessary for their intended use of the Library's materials, and to obtain all required permissions from any existing rights holders, if they have not already done so. Princeton University Library's Special Collections does not charge any permission or use fees for the publication of images of materials from our collections, nor does it require researchers to obtain its permission for said use. The department does request that its collections be properly cited and images credited. More detailed information can be found on the Copyright, Credit and Citations Guidelines page on our website. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us through the Ask Us! form.

Collection Inventory

9 Letters from William Stanley Merwin to Mr. Berg, 1 carbon typescript, 1 typed essay, 4 typed and 16 carbon copies of poems, 1966-1969. 1 folder.
Physical Description

1 folder

1 Galley (first proof) of "Moving Target", undated. 1 folder.
Physical Description

1 folder

Letter from William Stanley Merwin to Frederick Fox, 1964 March 15. 1 folder.
Physical Description

1 folder

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