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weekend-readsCloud Country

From The Kenyon Review, Summer 1947, Vol. IX, No. 3

How like a marriage is the season of clouds.
The winds at night are festive and constellations
Like stars in a kaleidoscope dissolve
And meet in astounding images of order.
How like a wedding and how like travelers
Through alchemies of a healing atmosphere
We whirl with hounds on leashes and lean birds.

As though the air, being magician, pulled
Birds from a sleeve of cloud, birds drop
To warm grass dented by a smile asleep.
Long odysseys of sunlight at this hour
Salute the gaze that of all weariness
Remains unwearied, and the air turns young
Like reddening light in a corridor of pines.

The landscape where we lie is creased with light
As a painting one might have folded and put away
And never wished to study until now.
How like a marriage, how like voyagers
We come upon this season of right clouds,
Valors of altitude, white harbors, hills
Supple and green, these actions of the sun.

In the Summer of 1947, James Merrill had just graduated from Amherst College, but he had already published his first book of poems, The Black Swan, which won the prestigious Glascock Prize for Poetry awarded by Mount Holyoke College. In April, he published four poems in Poetry Magazine, followed quickly by this first appearance in KR.