James Merrill himself once called his body of work chronicles of love and loss, and in twenty books written over four decades he used the details of his own life comic and haunting, exotic and domestic to shape a portrait that in turn mirrored the image of our world and our moment. This volume rings together the best of Merrill from the domestic rupture of The Broken Home to the universal connections of Lost in Translation; from the American storyteller of The Summer People to the ecologically motivated satirist of Self-Portrait in a TyvekTM Windbreaker. Merrill dazzles at every turn, and this balanced and compact selection will be an ideal introduction to the work for both students and general readers, and an instant favorite among his familiars.
Then when the flame forked like a sudden path
I gasped and stumbled, and was less.
Density pulsing upward, gauze of ash,
Dear light along the way to nothingness,
What could be made of you but light, and this?
About the Author
James Merrill (1926-1995) was renowned for the elegance and humane complexity of his work, and is considered the leading lyric poet of his generation. His travels around the world--with their displacements and discoveries--are the subject of many of his poems, but at heart he was an autobiographical poet whose "chronicles of love and loss" tracked the heart as poignantly as a poet ever has. In his huge epic poem on occult themes, in his enthralling narrative poems, or in his small exquisite lyrics, he wrote in a distinctively urbane and engaging voice that made his career one of the wonders of contemporary poetry.
J. D. McClatchy is Poetry Editor of "The Yale Review", and his poems, essays, and reviews appear regularly in "The New Republic, The New Yorker" and "The New York Times Book Review".
Stephen Yenser is Professor of English at the University of California, Los Angeles. He is the author of Circle to Circle: The Poetry of Robert Lowell and Clos Camardon, a chapbook of poems.