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Collected Poems Hardcover – 28 Feb 2001

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) HASH(0x8fab5c0c) out of 5 stars 8 reviews
21 of 23 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x98ce1810) out of 5 stars A Must for Any Poetry Lover's Collection 3 Mar. 2001
By C. Dale Young - Published on
Format: Hardcover
James Merrill stands in the poetry canon among the best of the 20th Century, and this volume reminds us why. Merrill is our poet of formal grace and biting wit, and the apparent effortlessness with which he wrote his poems (whether truly without much effort or not) is daunting, especially for those sitting in front of the paper trying to draft verse themselves. His work, like Elizabeth Bishop's, is quiet and, many times because of the silences, disturbing in the ways in which they question the sensibilities of vision and the interpretations we make of the natural and emotional worlds. One sees almost the entire range of Merrill's work in this collection, and one sees a mind of immense intelligence at play. One can teach a person to write verse, but Merrill reminds us we cannot teach someone how to see and re-write the world. This is a poetry of tremendous beauty and incredible doubt. No collection of poetry, or Literature in general, should be without it.
27 of 31 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x98ce1864) out of 5 stars Treasure Chest 18 April 2001
By Stephen McLeod - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
James Merrill was the greatest American poet of his generation, and while he was alive, one of the most important poets writing in English. This collection presents just about every poem that Merrill finished, apart from the long poem, *The Changing Light at Sandover* (the "ouija board poem"). That means that there are about 44 poems in here that no one's ever seen, plus uncollected poems from Merrill's first volume and the complete text of a 1974 collection called *The Yellow Pages*, which would be REALLY hard to get elsewhere.

Merrill was a virtuoso from the start, but his early poems - mostly from the first book - are, more often than not, somewhat too too, if you know what I mean. Still, they are better made than anyone else's first poems, and some of them are fine. They are show-pieces of a big prodigious boy.

Starting with some poems in *The Country of a Thousand Years of Peace* and more in *Water Street*, Merrill started to make some of the finest lyric poems in modern English. After *Nights and Days* (1966), Merrill was unrivalled.

There is no poem in this volume that is not worth the time and the effort. All of the great poems are here, such as "The Broken Home", "Days of 1964" and "Lost in Translation" and everything in the great valedictory performance, *A Scattering of Salts* . But, sometimes Merrill is at his most sublime in miniature lyrics such as "A Downward Look," and "Little Fallacy."

Even if you already own the *Selected Poems* or *From the First Nine*, you still need this. It's expensive but it will pay you back for the rest of your life. Find the money and buy this book.
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x8f6e58e8) out of 5 stars Nothing short of astounding 21 Dec. 2005
By spoonyj - Published on
Format: Hardcover
Merrill doesn't need another admirer, but my gratitude compels me to write. This volume is further proof that the gulf between great poetry and all the mediocre stuff is immense. Genius exists--and Merrill has it in abundance. Mastery of craft, breadth of vision, depth of emotion, intensity of intellect--Merrill's work reveals all the hallmarks of greatness. An extraordinary and generous accomplishment. I will read this book as long as I'm alive.
27 of 38 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x98ce1aec) out of 5 stars Bull Market for Poetry 15 Jun. 2001
By Arch Llewellyn - Published on
Format: Hardcover
Weighing in at almost 900 pages, this book holds just about all the Merrill you'll ever need outside of "Sandover." Merrill wrote exactly the kind of poems I used to think of as "real" poetry--stately, measured, clever & bittersweet, with lots of exquisite images to savor along the way. So why does this writing feel so stuffy and distant to me now? Reading a Merrill poem is somewhere between doing a crossword and shopping for antiques--you exercise the brain and always find something curious to enjoy, but even the most intimate ones left me strangely unmoved. I know Merrill has a legion of fans, and I can see why--these poems are among the best of their kind. But somehow they reminded me of the good chairs in my mom's living room--you could admire them, but you couldn't sit down. Still, the editors have done an excellent job and you'll enjoy going through this handsome book to make up your own mind.
6 of 9 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x98ce1c9c) out of 5 stars On Merrill 31 Dec. 2002
By Flounder - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Merrill requires no introduction. This is a splendid and comprehensive volume. It is a monolith, which commemorates the work of one of America's outstanding contemporary poets.
This collection includes some truly marvelous work: "The Drowning Poet," "Entrance From Sleep," "Poem in Spring," "Willow," "Walking At Night," "An Urban Convalescence," "The World and the Child," and "My Father's Irish Setters," to name a few.
I enthusiastically recommend this anthology. It serves as a means to remember that poetry of the Western hemisphere is capable of transcendent vision--that the Muses can still sing to twentieth century scribes.
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