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) wrote twelve books of poems, as well as the epic The Changing Light at Sandover. He published two plays, two novels, and a memoir, A Different Person. The recipient of numerous awards for his poetry, including two National Book Awards, the Bollingen Prize, the Pulitzer Prize, and the Bobbitt Prize from the Library of Congress, Merrill was also a chancellor of the Academy of American Poets and a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters.