In The Folding Cliffs, a narrative poem with a novelistic scope, W. S. Merwin reflects on poetic thinking by availing himself of the tools of narrative. He not only depicts historic injustice against indigenous Hawaiians but also tropes the form of his storytelling to assess the history it relates and its ethical implications. To promote this assessment, Merwin inculcates a judicious self-questioning in his readers by means of his narrative structure, which emphasizes the discrepancy between plot and story. By making readers keenly aware of the mechanics of his storytelling, Merwin offers a model of narrative ethics that respects the individual’s alterity.

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