James Merrill

Timothy Materer (University of Missouri)
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With the publication of his

Collected Poems

in 2001, James Merrill was established as one of the major poets of the mid-twentieth century along with poets such as Elizabeth Bishop, Robert Lowell, John Berryman, Sylvia Plath, John Ashbery and Adrienne Rich. As Helen Vendler observed in 1972, Merrill is a poet who makes one feel that he is “writing down our century”. Reviewers of

Collected Poems

praised his technical mastery, calling him a “miraculous mandarin”, a “Mozartian” love poet, and so richly gifted that he seemed “extraterrestrial”. His more than fifty years of creativity showed that Merrill was not only a master of poetic forms but also an engaging autobiographical poet. Although he was not as confessional as Lowell, Berryman or Plath, like them his search for…

2622 words

Citation: Materer, Timothy. "James Merrill". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 17 February 2005 [https://www.litencyc.com/php/speople.php?rec=true&UID=3091, accessed 12 June 2024.]

3091 James Merrill 1 Historical context notes are intended to give basic and preliminary information on a topic. In some cases they will be expanded into longer entries as the Literary Encyclopedia evolves.

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