Spring 1998 • Vol. XX No. 2 Kenyon Review Classics |

Transfigured Bird

        1 . That day the eggshell of appearance split And weak of its own translucence lay in the dew. A child fond of natural things discovered it.  Though it was broken it was very blue, Pearly within, and lit by sun enough For it to glow, though broken clean in two.  He ran home with it wrapped in a handkerchief To where he kept his findings. Here, in a nest, Robins' eggs hollowed with a pin and a puff; Moths spread like ferns, then ferns and flowers pressed Like moths on cotton; a bullfrog, once green; Minerals, and a few smutched feathers—lest  The world be part forgotten if part unseen. No longer glowing, but blue as the sky that day, The shell went on the top shelf. What had been  Inside was nimble and hungry and far away, And had left behind only this envelope For a child to find and fancy it was gay.          2.  As one who watches two days in some hopeA fertile yoke, until there throbs at last The point of blood beneath his microscope

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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.

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