Monday’s Verse 3/5/2018

Dear readers,

Yesterday was the birthday of one of the great American Yeats inheritors, James Merrill (1926-1995). The entry at Poetry Foundation for Merrill explains a lot; you should go read it there than listen to my summary. But I will paste in one great quote about the way Merrill mined his own personal experience for poetic achievement: He believed, like in this Yeats quote, that "all that is personal soon rots; it must be packed in salt or ice." What a profound metaphor, and itself packed in incisive imagery. It says something understandable about the poetic process at the same time.

We only have another 26 days or so until National Poetry month. Here’s a teaser, a short one that Merrill wrote in the year of my own birth. Have a great week! -ed.


The panes flash, tremble with your ghostly passage
Through them, an x-ray sheerness billowing, and I have risen
But cannot speak, remembering only that one was meant
To rise and not to speak. Young storm, this house is yours.
Let our eye darken, your rain come, the candle reeling
Deep in what still reflects control itself and me.
Daybreak’s great gray rust-veined irises humble and proud
Along your path will have laid their foreheads in the dust.


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