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If you’re a fan of poetry, you won’t want to miss the audiobook edition of W.S. Merwin’s Pulitzer Prize-winning collection, “The Shadow of Sirius.” This beautiful and haunting collection of poems tells the story of a man reflecting on his life and mortality, exploring themes of memory, loss, and the relationship between humanity and nature. In this audiobook review, we will take a closer look at the production, performance, and content of “The Shadow of Sirius,” and whether it’s worth adding to your listening list.

Key Takeaways

  • “The Shadow of Sirius” is a collection of poems that won the Pulitzer Prize and explores themes of memory, loss, and the relationship between humanity and nature.
  • The audiobook edition of “The Shadow of Sirius” provides a unique and engaging way to experience Merwin’s poetry.
  • The narrator’s performance and the overall audio quality are important features to consider when deciding whether to listen to this audiobook.
  • Merwin’s writing style is both beautiful and complex, featuring poetic techniques and vivid imagery.
  • Listeners have been impressed with the audiobook’s overall content and production, making it a recommended addition to any audiobook lover’s collection.

About W.S. Merwin

William Stanley Merwin (1927-2019) was an American poet and environmental activist renowned for his profound and deeply moving contributions to contemporary poetry. Born in New York City, Merwin was raised in New Jersey and then moved to Europe, where he spent most of the 1950s in the company of writers, artists, and intellectuals.

In 1971, Merwin settled in Hawaii to study Zen Buddhism and began devoting himself to ecologically sustainable practices, rejuvenating a 19-acre pineapple plantation into an award-winning garden. Throughout his life, Merwin published dozens of volumes of poetry, won numerous literary awards and fellowships, and was appointed Poet Laureate of the United States twice.

A lifelong advocate for environmental conservation and sustainability, Merwin was deeply committed to the preservation of the natural world. His themes of loss, memory, and the ineffable mysteries of existence are central to his poetry, which often explores the profound and poignant connections between humanity and nature.

Merwin’s writing style is characterized by his use of poetic techniques, such as metaphor and imagery, to create deeply evocative and resonant works. He was also a master of form, employing precise structures to convey complex and nuanced ideas. Throughout his long and storied career, Merwin’s work has touched countless readers and remains one of the most enduring legacies of contemporary American poetry.

Overview of “The Shadow of Sirius”

“The Shadow of Sirius” is a poetry collection by the acclaimed poet, W.S. Merwin. Published in 2008, the collection features poems that explore various themes and motifs, such as nature, mortality, memory, and spirituality. Merwin’s writing style in this collection is characterized by vivid imagery, introspection, and contemplation.

The collection has garnered widespread critical acclaim and received several awards, including the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry in 2009. The poems in “The Shadow of Sirius” have been praised for their lyrical quality, depth of emotion, and philosophical musings.

One of the recurring themes in the collection is the relationship between humans and nature. Merwin’s poems often evoke the beauty and power of the natural world while underscoring its fragility and vulnerability in the face of human interference. Another prominent theme is the passage of time and the inevitability of mortality, which Merwin contemplates with a mixture of resignation and wonder.

The collection also explores metaphysical and spiritual themes, such as the nature of being and consciousness, the search for transcendence, and the role of memory in shaping our sense of identity. The poems in “The Shadow of Sirius” are philosophical and introspective, inviting readers to contemplate the big questions of life and existence.

Overall, “The Shadow of Sirius” is a poetic masterpiece that showcases Merwin’s remarkable talent and artistic vision. The collection’s themes and motifs are both timeless and timely, resonating deeply with readers and listeners alike.

Audiobook Production

When it comes to the production of audiobooks, there are several elements that can make or break the listening experience. In the case of “The Shadow of Sirius” audiobook, the narrator’s performance and the audio quality are two particularly important factors to consider.

Narrator Performance

The narrator of “The Shadow of Sirius” audiobook is Lorna Raver, a seasoned actress and audiobook narrator with more than 200 titles to her name. Raver’s performance in this particular audiobook has received mixed reviews, with some listeners praising her ability to bring Merwin’s poems to life and others finding her voice too monotonous or lacking in emotion.

One thing that stands out about Raver’s narration is her clear and articulate enunciation, which makes even the most complex or abstract poetic language easy to understand. However, some listeners may find her pace too slow or deliberate, which can detract from the overall listening experience.

Audio Quality

The audio quality of “The Shadow of Sirius” audiobook is generally considered to be high, with clear and consistent sound throughout. The recording was produced by Blackstone Audio, a well-respected audiobook production company known for their attention to detail and commitment to quality.

One potential issue with the audio quality is that some listeners may find the background music and sound effects used in certain parts of the recording distracting or unnecessary. However, this is largely a matter of personal preference and does not significantly impact the overall quality of the audiobook.

In summary, while some listeners may have mixed feelings about the narrator’s performance in “The Shadow of Sirius” audiobook, the audio quality itself is generally considered to be high. It is a well-produced audiobook overall and offers a unique and immersive way to experience Merwin’s Pulitzer Prize-winning poetry collection.

Listening Experience

Listening to a poetry collection is a unique experience that depends heavily on the pace and tone of the narrator’s voice. “The Shadow of Sirius” audiobook does not disappoint in that regard, providing a captivating listening experience that enhances the beautiful poetry of W.S. Merwin.

The pace of the narrator is steady and deliberate, allowing for ample time to appreciate the intricate language and imagery of each poem. The tone is somber, yet introspective, capturing the complex emotions and themes of the collection. Additionally, the audio quality is excellent, ensuring that every word is clear and powerful.

Overall, the listening experience of “The Shadow of Sirius” audiobook is one of the standout features of this production, adding an extra layer of depth and meaning to Merwin’s Pulitzer Prize-winning poetry.

Merwin’s Writing Style

W.S. Merwin’s writing style in “The Shadow of Sirius” is a prime example of contemporary poetry that showcases a blend of traditional and modern elements. Merwin’s focus on precise language and his ability to convey deep emotions through imagery and poetic techniques make his work stand out.

Imagery is a prominent feature of Merwin’s writing style, as he masterfully employs concrete, sensory details to create vivid pictures in the reader’s mind. His use of metaphor and simile further enhances the imagery in his poetry.

In addition to imagery, Merwin uses a variety of poetic techniques to create a unique reading experience. For instance, he utilizes enjambment, a technique where a phrase or sentence flows over multiple lines, to create a sense of continuity and fluidity.

The writing style in “The Shadow of Sirius” often features a subdued tone that emphasizes introspection and emotional depth. Merwin’s use of short, concise lines and minimal punctuation encourages readers to slow down and savor the language.

writing style

Standout Poems

“The Shadow of Sirius” is filled with beautiful and thought-provoking poems that will leave a lasting impression on the listeners. Here are some of the standout poems that we believe are worth highlighting:

Poem Title Description
“For the Anniversary of My Death” This poem challenges our perceptions of death and invites us to contemplate what it means to be alive.
“The Moon Before Morning” This hauntingly beautiful poem explores themes of loss, memory, and the passing of time.
“Vixen” This poem, told from the perspective of a fox, engages with themes of nature, the mysteries of the wild, and our relationship with animals.

These are just a few examples of the memorable pieces contained within “The Shadow of Sirius.” Each poem resonates in its unique way, with powerful imagery, lyrical language, and thought-provoking themes that leave a lasting impact on the reader or listener.

Audience Reception

The Shadow of Sirius audiobook has garnered a positive response from poetry enthusiasts and audiobook listeners alike. Many have praised the narrator’s engaging and emotive performance, which brings to life W.S. Merwin’s hauntingly beautiful poetry. The audio quality has also been commended, with listeners appreciating the clarity and depth of the sound.

Reviews of the audiobook edition have highlighted its ability to immerse the listener in the world of Merwin’s poetry, allowing them to fully experience the depth and complexity of his writing. Listeners have also noted the audiobook’s ability to evoke strong emotions, with some poems leaving a lasting impact.

Overall, the audience reception of “The Shadow of Sirius” audiobook has been overwhelmingly positive, with many listeners recommending it to those who appreciate poetry and are looking for a unique and immersive listening experience.

Comparisons to Print Edition

For those who prefer physical copies of books, comparing “The Shadow of Sirius” audiobook to its print version is worth exploring. The audiobook edition offers unique advantages, such as the convenience of listening to the mesmerizing poems at any time and any place. On the other hand, the print edition can be beneficial for readers who wish to savor the intricate writings slowly.

A key difference between the two formats is the pace of consumption. Audiobooks tend to move at a consistent speed, while reading the print edition allows for the reader to pause and reflect on the profound lines. This ability to reread and meditate on a passage may provide a more profound understanding of the work.

Moreover, the audiobook version offers a nuanced experience of the poems’ tone through the narrator’s voice. In contrast, the print edition leaves the interpretation of tone up to the reader’s imagination.

Ultimately, both formats have their unique characteristics that provide distinct advantages to the audience, depending on their preferences and needs.

Impact and Legacy

Since its publication, “The Shadow of Sirius” has left a significant impact on the world of contemporary poetry, with its lasting legacy extending beyond the Pulitzer Prize win. Through Merwin’s emotive exploration of themes such as nature, mortality, and memory, this poetry collection continues to inspire and influence poets and readers alike.

Merwin’s writing style, which is characterized by its spare and precise use of language, has continued to shape the evolution of contemporary poetry. His poetic techniques, including his use of imagery and symbolism, have inspired new generations of poets and writers.

The lasting literary influence of “The Shadow of Sirius” is evident in the numerous critical accolades and positive reader reviews that it continues to receive. This poetry collection has also been translated into several languages, cementing its status as a timeless masterpiece of modern poetry.

Impact on Contemporary Poetry

Aspect Impact
Innovation Merwin’s experimentation with language and form has inspired contemporary poets to push the boundaries of traditional poetry and explore new techniques.
Environmentalism Merwin’s deep connection with nature and concern for the environment has influenced the theme of eco-poetry and increased awareness about environmental issues through the power of poetry.
Social Justice Merwin’s dedication to social justice and political causes, expressed through his poetry, has inspired other writers and poets to use their art to speak out against social and political injustices.

Legacy and Continuing Relevance

Today, “The Shadow of Sirius” remains a powerful and relevant commentary on the human condition and the natural world. Merwin’s exploration of themes such as loss, nostalgia, and memory continue to resonate with readers, offering new insights and perspectives with each reading.

As new generations of readers and writers discover “The Shadow of Sirius,” its impact and legacy will continue to inspire and influence the world of contemporary poetry for years to come.


Overall, “The Shadow of Sirius” audiobook edition provides a captivating listening experience for poetry enthusiasts. W.S. Merwin’s Pulitzer Prize-winning poetry collection is masterfully narrated, allowing listeners to fully immerse themselves in the beauty and depth of his writing style.

The audiobook production itself is of high quality, with clear audio and a steady pace that keeps the listener engaged throughout. Merwin’s writing style, which incorporates poetic techniques and vivid imagery, is further enhanced by the narration, making for a truly unforgettable listening experience.

While some standout poems leave a lasting impact on the listener, the collection as a whole may not be suited to all tastes. Those who prefer a more traditional, structured form of poetry may find Merwin’s free-verse style challenging to appreciate.

Overall, we highly recommend “The Shadow of Sirius” audiobook to fans of contemporary poetry and audiobook listeners looking for a thought-provoking and immersive listening experience.


Can you provide a brief summary of "The Shadow of Sirius" audiobook?

“The Shadow of Sirius” is a Pulitzer Prize-winning poetry collection by W.S. Merwin. This audiobook edition showcases Merwin’s mesmerizing verses and explores profound themes of memory, nature, and the human condition.

Who is W.S. Merwin?

W.S. Merwin is a renowned American poet known for his profound and ethereal verses. He has received numerous accolades and awards throughout his career and is considered one of the most celebrated poets of our time.

What are the key themes explored in "The Shadow of Sirius"?

“The Shadow of Sirius” delves into themes of mortality, nature, memory, and the beauty of everyday life. Merwin’s poetic mastery brings these themes to life and invites readers to contemplate the complexity of existence.

How is the production quality of the audiobook?

The audiobook production of “The Shadow of Sirius” impresses with its excellent audio quality. The narration is clear and engaging, capturing the nuances of Merwin’s poetry and enhancing the overall listening experience.

What can I expect from the listening experience of "The Shadow of Sirius" audiobook?

The listening experience of “The Shadow of Sirius” is captivating. The pace of the narration allows the listener to savor each line, and the tone of the reading transports them into Merwin’s contemplative world of words.

How would you describe W.S. Merwin’s writing style in "The Shadow of Sirius"?

W.S. Merwin’s writing style in “The Shadow of Sirius” is characterized by its lyrical beauty and profound imagery. His poetic techniques create a vivid and heartfelt exploration of the human experience and the natural world.

Are there any standout poems in "The Shadow of Sirius" audiobook?

Absolutely. “The Shadow of Sirius” features several standout poems that leave a lasting impact on the listener. From the haunting reflections on mortality to the poignant celebrations of nature, these pieces showcase Merwin’s exceptional talent.

How has the audiobook been received by the audience?

The audiobook edition of “The Shadow of Sirius” has garnered positive reviews and feedback from the audience. Listeners appreciate the mesmerizing narration and the deep emotional resonance of Merwin’s poetry.

How does the audiobook compare to the print edition of "The Shadow of Sirius"?

The audiobook edition of “The Shadow of Sirius” offers a unique experience compared to the print version. The interplay of voice and words adds an extra layer of depth to Merwin’s poetic compositions, allowing listeners to fully immerse themselves in his mesmerizing verses.

What is the lasting impact and legacy of "The Shadow of Sirius"?

“The Shadow of Sirius” holds a significant place in the literary world. Its impact and legacy are evident in its Pulitzer Prize win and the admiration it continues to receive from poetry enthusiasts and scholars alike. Merwin’s work in this collection has contributed to the rich tapestry of contemporary poetry.

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