"Bloodaxe Poetry Introductions" are a new kind of anthology aimed at the general reader as well as the poetry lover. Compiled by Staying Alive editor Neil Astley, each book in the series covers four leading contemporary poets in depth, with substantial selections covering the whole range of each writer's poetry, as well as intriguing and illuminating background material, including profiles, interviews, essays and commentary by the poets. This introduction brings together four of America's major modern poets whose visionary poetry is rooted in the everyday world as well as in nature. Wise, passionate and incisive, their poems address heart, spirit and mind to illuminate the human condition. Jack Gilbert has always been a total outsider in American poetry. He writes compellingly about passion, loss and loneliness. His work is both a rebellious assertion of clarity and a profound affirmation of the world. Jane Hirshfield is a visionary writer whose poems ask nothing less than what it is to be human. Both sensual meditations and passionate investigations, they reveal complex truths in language luminous and precise. Galway Kinnell's diverse work ranges from odes of kinship with nature to realistic evocations of urban life, from religious quest to political statement, from brief imagistic lyrics to extended, complex meditations. W.S. Merwin is arguably the most influential American poet of the last half-century, known especially for continually renewing his poetry, for his intimate feeling for nature and language, and for several classic translations.