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Spanish Ballads

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When W.S. Merwin was a young poet, Ezra Pound advised him to “read the seeds of poetry, not the twigs.” As the ballads of Spain are among those essential seeds, Merwin set out to select and translate a collection of them into English. Few, if any, popular poetic traditions compare to that of the ballads in the culture of Spain. These terse, passionate, and often violent poe When W.S. Merwin was a young poet, Ezra Pound advised him to “read the seeds of poetry, not the twigs.” As the ballads of Spain are among those essential seeds, Merwin set out to select and translate a collection of them into English. Few, if any, popular poetic traditions compare to that of the ballads in the culture of Spain. These terse, passionate, and often violent poems have been remembered, repeated, and loved for centuries throughout the Spanish-speaking world. Evolving from the epic song, this unique poetic genre has influenced the drama of the Golden Age, the novel, and lyric verse of the present day. For this volume—long out of print and reissued in the new series Copper Canyon Classics—W.S. Merwin selected representative examples of every kind of ballad: from episodic story poems to unusual “wonder-mongering” songs. Grouped by kind and arranged in chronological order, these poems provide an essential key to Spanish culture from the late Middle Ages to the twentieth century. Merwin approached this project humbly and notes in his introduction: “My aim was not to produce a series of virtuoso performances but a group of translations which would be faithful and readable, and would get in the way of the originals as little as possible.” W.S. Merwin is the author of over fifty books of poetry, prose, and translation. He has earned nearly every major literary prize, including the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award. He lives in Hawaii.


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When W.S. Merwin was a young poet, Ezra Pound advised him to “read the seeds of poetry, not the twigs.” As the ballads of Spain are among those essential seeds, Merwin set out to select and translate a collection of them into English. Few, if any, popular poetic traditions compare to that of the ballads in the culture of Spain. These terse, passionate, and often violent poe When W.S. Merwin was a young poet, Ezra Pound advised him to “read the seeds of poetry, not the twigs.” As the ballads of Spain are among those essential seeds, Merwin set out to select and translate a collection of them into English. Few, if any, popular poetic traditions compare to that of the ballads in the culture of Spain. These terse, passionate, and often violent poems have been remembered, repeated, and loved for centuries throughout the Spanish-speaking world. Evolving from the epic song, this unique poetic genre has influenced the drama of the Golden Age, the novel, and lyric verse of the present day. For this volume—long out of print and reissued in the new series Copper Canyon Classics—W.S. Merwin selected representative examples of every kind of ballad: from episodic story poems to unusual “wonder-mongering” songs. Grouped by kind and arranged in chronological order, these poems provide an essential key to Spanish culture from the late Middle Ages to the twentieth century. Merwin approached this project humbly and notes in his introduction: “My aim was not to produce a series of virtuoso performances but a group of translations which would be faithful and readable, and would get in the way of the originals as little as possible.” W.S. Merwin is the author of over fifty books of poetry, prose, and translation. He has earned nearly every major literary prize, including the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award. He lives in Hawaii.

31 review for Spanish Ballads

  1. 4 out of 5

    William2

    2nd reading. Simple narrative poems of love and vengeance. Translated from the Romanceros. Delightful.

  2. 4 out of 5

    David

    This was originally published in the 1960's and Copper Canyon reissued it in 2008 with a revised forward by Merwin. I found it an enlightening collection of poems that reads wonderfully and easily. It was a real treat to read and put Spain in perspective during the Middle Ages. The Appendix sheds some interesting views of kings, knights and ladies during this period of turmoil between Moors, Christians and Jews. An enjoyable read. This was originally published in the 1960's and Copper Canyon reissued it in 2008 with a revised forward by Merwin. I found it an enlightening collection of poems that reads wonderfully and easily. It was a real treat to read and put Spain in perspective during the Middle Ages. The Appendix sheds some interesting views of kings, knights and ladies during this period of turmoil between Moors, Christians and Jews. An enjoyable read.

  3. 5 out of 5

    John Cline

  4. 4 out of 5

    Ann Keller

  5. 4 out of 5

    Pete

  6. 4 out of 5

    Carlos

  7. 5 out of 5

    F. Rzicznek

  8. 5 out of 5

    Mitch

  9. 4 out of 5

    Lynne

  10. 5 out of 5

    Patrick Healy

  11. 5 out of 5

    Erin

  12. 4 out of 5

    Steve

  13. 5 out of 5

    Ann

  14. 4 out of 5

    Stef

  15. 4 out of 5

    Ryan Biracree

  16. 5 out of 5

    Colleen S Harris

  17. 5 out of 5

    Charles

  18. 4 out of 5

    Keegan Bucy

  19. 4 out of 5

    Melissa

  20. 4 out of 5

    Pokątnik Złowieszczek

  21. 5 out of 5

    Maudy Benz

  22. 4 out of 5

    Rachel

  23. 5 out of 5

    Al Maki

  24. 4 out of 5

    EcoDesk Pomona

  25. 4 out of 5

    Christina Borgoyn

  26. 5 out of 5

    Erika

  27. 4 out of 5

    Josh Miles

  28. 5 out of 5

    Andrew

  29. 5 out of 5

    Jacob

  30. 5 out of 5

    Robert

  31. 5 out of 5

    Meg McGuinness

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