Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Mercy” as Want to Read:
The Mercy
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Mercy

3.97 of 5 stars 3.97  ·  rating details  ·  119 ratings  ·  13 reviews
Philip Levine's new collection of poems (his first since The Simple Truth was awarded the Pulitzer Prize) is a book of journeys: the necessary ones that each of us takes from innocence to experience, from youth to age, from confusion to clarity, from sanity to madness and back again, from life to death, and occasionally from defeat to triumph. The book's mood is best captu ...more
Paperback, 96 pages
Published October 24th 2000 by Knopf (first published 1999)
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Mercy, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about The Mercy

The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. TolkienTill We Have Faces by C.S. LewisA Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'EngleA Prayer for Owen Meany by John IrvingThe Complete Stories by Flannery O'Connor
Image Magazine 100 Writers of Faith
91st out of 116 books — 32 voters
The Grapes of Wrath by John SteinbeckWhat Work Is by Philip LevineEmpire Falls by Richard RussoThe Bean Trees by Barbara KingsolverOf Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
Blue Collar Books
27th out of 88 books — 36 voters


More lists with this book...

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 204)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
Matt Lee Sharp
I feel with Philip Levine such a plain emotional connection. all of his poetry feels so grounded, feels so much like stories being passed down to me. his work is a kind of midwestern mythology, and the longer you read it, the more familiar you become with the characters and geography. There's no required previous reading for this collection. It'd make a great introduction to his work.
Peter
Fascinating blue-collar, working-class poetry which beautifully invokes a crushing industrial landscape and the endless struggle of its denizens to carve out decent, human lives within it.
Kendall
I discovered Philip Levine while surfing the Atlantic Monthly (or is it just called Atlantic?) website. Two of his poems really spoke to me: He would Never Use One Word Where None Would Do and The Return. I especially liked He would Never Use One Word Where None Would Do because at the time I was dealing with someone who talked non-stop about every intimate detail of his life- and it drove me crazy.
Laurel
Sep 23, 2007 Laurel added it
Levine is one of the most lively poets whose books I've read or who I've heard read in person. His Detroit steel background melds with the tough-soft potrayals of characters, dialogue, and vivid settings. Like a good short story with a beginning, middle, and end, Levine leaves the reader feeling complete. Philip Levine
Michael
This is my first time reading Philip Levine, and it was a happy discovery. A number of the poems are gritty and memorable, yet a number also seem to fall off and Levine doesn't really pull them off. All in all, powerful, memorable, yet uneven.
Caroline
Sep 18, 2011 Caroline marked it as to-read
Shelves: poetry
I had the privilege of hearing him read a few of his poems a couple nights ago at the Univ. of MDCP and he was captivating. I look forward to poring over his work and recapturing what I felt that night.
Darrel
Maybe my favorite collection of his...though I haven't read each of his books. My personal favorite poem from this collection is 'After Leviticus'. Think about the title after you've read it...
Deb
Oct 09, 2007 Deb rated it 2 of 5 stars
Shelves: poetry
I was about halfway through this when I lent it to Ryler before he left on tour. It was okay - so far Levine isn't my cup of tea, but he's definitely a good writer.
Jamie Ross
This is the guy I want to take to a smokey bar after a long week just to have him buy me a shot of whiskey and tell me what it feels like going down.
Abby
One of the first books Guion lent me when we started dating.
Miami University Libraries
King Library (2nd floor) | PS3562.E9 M47 1999
Amy Kitchell-Leighty
I loved the front cover photo
Elaine
Elaine is currently reading it
May 13, 2015
TM
TM added it
May 10, 2015
Bri
Bri added it
Feb 27, 2015
Christine Wagner-hecht
Christine Wagner-hecht marked it as to-read
Feb 20, 2015
studioloraine
studioloraine marked it as to-read
Feb 17, 2015
Charese
Charese marked it as to-read
Feb 16, 2015
Lisa
Lisa marked it as to-read
Feb 16, 2015
Iris Nuţu
Iris Nuţu marked it as to-read
Feb 15, 2015
Jose
Jose is currently reading it
Apr 12, 2015
Steven Chang
Steven Chang marked it as to-read
Feb 03, 2015
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • When One Has Lived a Long Time Alone
  • Teahouse of the Almighty
  • What Do We Know
  • Garbage
  • Sweet Machine
  • Gathering the Tribes
  • Muscular Music
  • Alibi School
  • Different Hours
  • What We Carry
  • Mercy
  • This Time: New and Selected Poems
  • Questions About Angels
  • Elegy
  • Lucky Fish
  • What Is This Thing Called Love: Poems
  • Kinky
  • Flying At Night: Poems 1965-1985
15537
Philip Levine (b. January 10, 1928, Detroit, Michigan. d. February 14, 2015, Fresno, California) was a Pulitzer Prize-winning American poet best known for his poems about working-class Detroit.

He taught for over thirty years at the English Department of California State University, Fresno and held teaching positions at other universities as well. He is appointed to serve as the Poet Laureate of t
...more
More about Philip Levine...
What Work Is: Poems The Simple Truth New Selected Poems News of the World Breath

Share This Book

No trivia or quizzes yet. Add some now »

The Mercy

The ship that took my mother to Ellis Island
eighty-three years ago was named "The Mercy."
She remembers trying to eat a banana
without first peeling it and seeing her first orange
in the hands of a young Scot, a seaman
who gave her a bite and wiped her mouth for her
with a red bandana and taught her the word,
"orange," saying it patiently over and over.
A long autumn voyage, the days darkening
with the black waters calming as night came on,
then nothing as far as her eyes could see and space
without limit rushing off to the corners
of creation. She prayed in Russian and Yiddish
to find her family in New York, prayers
unheard or misunderstood or perhaps ignored
by all the powers that swept the waves of darkness
before she woke, that kept "The Mercy" afloat
while smallpox raged among the passengers
and crew until the dead were buried at sea
with strange prayers in a tongue she could not fathom.
"The Mercy," I read on the yellowing pages of a book
I located in a windowless room of the library
on 42nd Street, sat thirty-one days
offshore in quarantine before the passengers
disembarked. There a story ends. Other ships
arrived, "Tancred" out of Glasgow, "The Neptune"
registered as Danish, "Umberto IV,"
the list goes on for pages, November gives
way to winter, the sea pounds this alien shore.
Italian miners from Piemonte dig
under towns in western Pennsylvania
only to rediscover the same nightmare
they left at home. A nine-year-old girl travels
all night by train with one suitcase and an orange.
She learns that mercy is something you can eat
again and again while the juice spills over
your chin, you can wipe it away with the back
of your hands and you can never get enough.”
2 likes
More quotes…