H.L. Hix describes Merwin as a ''moral poet'' with the theme of place running throughout his work. Hix's commentary holds true for this collection of eight essays on a variety of widely-scattered scenes from Hawaii to Mexico. The centerpiece is an 80-page narrative of a Mount Athos tour thirty years ago, in which ''an underlying vision of human interconnectedness and affinity with nature'' (again Hix) are clearly at work. Merwin's poetic genius for paying attention and offering description makes the absence of reflection and commentary superfluous.
An Eighth Day View:
W. S. Merwin is widely acknowledged as one of the finest living poets in English. Less well known is the power and range of his work in prose. For his first new prose collection in more than ten years, The Ends of the Earth, Merwin has gathered eight essays that show the breadth of his imagination and sympathy. A memoir of George Kirstein, publisher of "The Nation," stands alongside one of Sydney Parkinson, explorer, naturalist and artist on Captain James Cook's Endeavour. A wonderful portrait of the French explorer of Hawai'i, Jean-Francois Galaup de La Perouse is followed by a visit to the Neanderthal skeleton of Boffia Bonneval. There are treks through the Hawaiian forests, to the Holy Mountain of Athos, and with the butterflies in Mexico. For this magical and wondrous journey we have as our guide the excited and concise poet-naturalist, writing at the top of his form.