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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  • Freshman - 837 Points 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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Famous Poets
Best Poem of James Merrill

The Broken Home

Crossing the street,
I saw the parents and the child
At their window, gleaming like fruit
With evening’s mild gold leaf.

In a room on the floor below,
Sunless, cooler—a brimming
Saucer of wax, marbly and dim—
I have lit what’s left of my life.

I have thrown out yesterday’s milk
And opened a book of maxims.
The flame quickens. The word stirs.

Tell me, tongue of fire,
That you and I are as real
At least as the people upstairs.


My father, who had flown in World War I,
Might have continued to invest his life
In cloud banks well ...

Read the full of The Broken Home

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