Contents and Arrangement Expanded View

Collection Overview

Merwin, W.S. (William Stanley), 1927-2019
Princeton University. Library. Special Collections
W. S. Merwin Collection
Manuscripts Division
Permanent URL:
1 box and 0.2 linear feet
Storage Note:
  • ReCAP (scarcpxm): Box 1


Consists of selected correspondence, manuscripts, and galler proofs of W. S. Merwin, one of the most influential American poets of the latter 20th century.

Collection Description & Creator Information

Scope and Contents

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.

Collection Creator Biography:

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).

Collection History


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

Custodial History

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.


No appraisal information is available.

Processing Information

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.

Access & Use

Conditions Governing Access

The collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

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.

Physical Characteristics and Technical Requirements

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.

Credit this material:

W. S. Merwin Collection; Manuscripts Division, Department of Special Collections, Princeton University Library

Permanent URL:
Firestone Library
One Washington Road
Princeton, NJ 08544, USA
(609) 258-3184
Storage Note:
  • ReCAP (scarcpxm): Box 1