1st Edition

This Composite Voice The Role of W.B. Yeats in James Merrill's Poetry

By Mark A. Bauer Copyright 2003
    290 Pages
    by Routledge

    290 Pages
    by Routledge

    Readers of James Merrill's poetry have long noted affinities and contrasts between Merrill and Yeats. This Composite Voice is the first in depth examination of the extensive history and particularly vexed nature of this lifelong poetic relationship. It draws on little-known biographical material, uncollected poems, manuscript variants, and annotations found in Merrill's copies of Yeats poems, essays, and A Vision , as well as a close examination of Merrill's better-known writing, to establish the many ways in which Merrill contends with the older poet's haunting personality and poetic accomplishment.

    INTRODUCTION CHAPTER ONE Prelude: Merrillian Influence, Kimon Friar, and Yeats; Yeats in Merrill’s Early Poems: Moving from Floodedness to Struggle CHAPTER TWO Prelude: First Readings of Yeats’s A Vision; Braving the Fire: Postures of Nonchalance in the Early Ouija Board Poems; Interlude: Returning to Yeats’s A Vision Merrill’s Dialogues of Self and Soul CHAPTER THREE Prelude: Reading Yeats’s Essays and Introductions; Observing Yeats through Merrill’s Changing Lights I. Yeats in “Ephraim”: The Master’s Ghostly Presence II. Yeats in Mirabell: Parody and Affiliation III. Yeats in Scripts: Abjection and Apotheosis IV. Yeats in “The Higher Keys”: Fading into Mastery CHAPTER FOUR A Haunted Mastery: Yeats after Sandover; Coda: Yeats’s Merrill, Merrill’s Bloom


    Mark A. Bauer

    "This is one of those rare--increasingly rare--studies of a major poet that is a MUST, a book that must be read by anyone who wishes to appreciate better either the brilliance of Merrill or the dynamics of poetic influence at its best. Bauer's incomparable sense of Merrill's engagement with both the fire and the vacillations of Yeats makes lines one might have thought too baffling or merely witty emerge rich, strange, urbane, complex, and luminous." -- Leslie Brisman, Karl Young Professor of English, Yale University
    "Mark Bauer's study of the influence relation between W. B. Yeats and James Merrill is illuminating, eloquent, and marked by authentic insight into both these great poets. As a demonstration of critical scholarship, Bauer's book is exemplary. It will be of permanent use to all readers of Merrill's work.
    ." -- Harold Bloom, Sterling Professor of the Humanities, Yale University