Information about the author.
A vast, sacred epic poem for a postreligious age. The poem was dictated by a ouija board over a period of twenty years, and it reveals the dangers confronting the human race—a work that combines narrative, drama, humor, and lyricism.
James Merrill’s new collection, The Inner Room, combines symmetry with surprise. The first and last of its five parts include, in addition to diverse two masterly long poems each (”Morning Glory” and “A Room at the Heart of Things” in Part I and “Walks in Rome” and “Losing the Marbles” in Part V). The central section, an arrangement of shorter poems and a bittersweet meditation written some years ago but not collected until now, is framed by the book’s most startling accomplishments.
In Part II Merrill returns to the verse drama, a genre that he has not worked in since the 1950s, when “The Bait” was produced off-Broadway. “The Image Maker” is an exquisitely fashioned one-act play about a santero, a saint-maker, whose carved figures are objects of veneration and sources of power in his Caribbean village. The santero also practices santeria, the Latin…[more]
This new Selected Poems replaces an earlier selection of work by James Merrill entitled From the First Nine (1982), now out of print; it includes 121 poems taken from that work and from Late Settings (1985), but it excludes the long narrative poem “The Changing Light at Sandover”, which is republished simultaneously in a separate volume. Together the two give solid definition to a body of poetic work that must be accounted among the finest in English of our time.
Of James Merrill, the critic Harold Bloom has said, “He is indisputably a verse artist comparable to Milton, Tennyson and Pope. Surely he will be remembered as the Mozart of American poetry, classical rather than mannerist or baroque, master of the changing light or perfection that consoles.”