Summer 1982 • Vol. IV No. 3 Contemporary American Poetry |


A glow of cells in the warm Sea, Some vaguest green or violet soup Took a few billion days to loop The loops we called eternity. Before the splendor bit its tail Blake rendered it in aquatint And Eddington pursued a glint— Recoil, explosion—scale on scale. What stellar gases plumed like Mars Sank to provincial rant and strut, Lines blown, within the occiput? Considering the fate of stars, I think that man died happiest Who never saw his Mother clasp Fusion, the tiny naked asp, By force of habit to her breast.

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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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