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(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 ... more »

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Quotations

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  • I had gone so long without loving
    I hardly knew what I was thinking.

    Where I hid my face, your touch, quick, merciful
    Blindfolded me. A god breathed from my lips.
    I...
    James Merrill (b. 1926), U.S. poet. Days of 1964 (l. 59-63). . . Norton Anthology of American Literature, The, Vols. I-II. Nina Baym and others, e...
  • ''But you were everywhere beside me, masked,
    As who was not, in laughter, pain, and love.''
    James Merrill (b. 1926), U.S. poet. Days of 1964 (l. 73-74). . . Norton Anthology of American Literature, The, Vols. I-II. Nina Baym and others, e...
  • ''He thought of certain human hearts, their climb
    Through violence into exquisite disciplines
    Of which, as it now appeared, they all expired.''
    James Merrill (b. 1926), U.S. poet. Laboratory Poem (l. 14-16). . . Introduction to Poetry, An. X. J. Kennedy, ed. (6th ed., 1986) Little, Brown &...
  • ''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.''
    James Merrill (b. 1926), U.S. poet. The Broken Home (l. 5-8). . . New Oxford Book of American Verse, The. Richard Ellmann, ed. (1976) Oxford Unive...
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  • 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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