A Poem For Saturday


Dish poetry editor Alice Quinn writes:

The late James Merrill (1925-1995) was a supreme poet of childhood and a marvelous love poet, too. The essay about him on the Poetry Foundation’s website introduces him as “one of the leading poets of his generation”, “praised for his stylish elegance, moral sensibilities, and transformation of autobiographical moments into deep and complex meditations.” He was also a true gentleman and a dashing figure at poetry readings or the opera. This weekend we’ll be featuring his work, beginning with “A Renewal.”

“A Renewal” by James Merrill:

Having used every subterfuge
To shake you, lies, fatigue, or even that of passion,
Now I see no way but a clean break.
I add that I am willing to bear the guilt.

You nod assent. Autumn turns windy, huge,
A clear vase of dry leaves vibrating on and on.
We sit, watching. When I next speak
Love buries itself in me, up to the hilt.

(From Collected Poems © 2001 by The Literary Estate of James Merrill at Washington University.  Reprinted by kind permission of Alfred A. Knopf, Inc. Photo by Jonas Bengtsson)