James Merrill

(3 March 1926 – 6 February 1995 / New York City, New York)

James Merrill
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James Ingram Merrill was an American poet whose awards include the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry (1977) for Divine Comedies. His poetry falls into two distinct bodies of work: the polished and formalist (if deeply emotional) lyric poetry of his early career, and the epic narrative of occult communication with spirits and angels, titled The Changing Light at Sandover, which dominated his later career. Although most of his published work was poetry, he also wrote essays, fiction, and plays.

Life

James Ingram Merrill was born in New York City to Hellen Ingram Merrill and Charles E. Merrill, founding partner of the Merrill Lynch investment firm. He had two older half siblings ... more »

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  • Linda Hepner Linda Hepner (5/18/2015 5:56:00 PM)

    I'm wandering round the internet and find James Merrill. What a wonderful day! Welcome to my life!

  • Lamont Palmer (12/1/2008 12:06:00 AM)

    It doesn't get much better in terms of midcentury poets than James Merrill. A virtuoso with words. -LP

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Best Poem of James Merrill

Home Fires

I peered into the crater’s heaving red
And quailed. I called upon the Muse. I said,
“The day I cease to serve you, let me die!”
And woke alone to birdsong, in our bed.

The flame was sinewed like those angels Blake
Drew faithfully. One old log, flake by flake,
Gasped out its being. Had it hoped to rise
Intact from such a wrestler’s give-and-take?

My house is made of wood so old, so dry
From years beneath this pilot-light blue sky,
A stranger’s idle glance could be the match
That sends us all to blazes.—Where was I?

Ah yes. The man from Aetna ...

Read the full of Home Fires

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