• “The central hollowness”: James Merrill and the Annihilation of the Self

    Author(s):
    Johanna Hoorenman (see profile)
    Date:
    2017
    Subject(s):
    20th-century American poetry, American poetry
    Item Type:
    Article
    Tag(s):
    James Merrill, Sublime
    Permanent URL:
    http://dx.doi.org/10.17613/M62F7JQ6T
    Abstract:
    James merrill's strange—and at times inaccessible— trilogy The Changing Light at Sandover is very different in conception from his lyrical poetry. Merrill displays a distinct concern with appearances and aesthetics in his lyrical poetry, whereas the Sandover trilogy is much more political and spiritual in nature, focusing on content—largely transcribed from Ouija board sessions—over form. Merrill repeatedly expresses discomfort with his own predilection for form over content in poems that feature key themes of appearances, impressions, metaphor, and poetic form. This concern with the question of form versus content appears in “The Black Swan,” “Transfigured Bird,” “The Octopus,” and “To a Butterfly.” The conflict between form and content is only partly resolved in these poems, however, through an evocation of the sublime as a poetic gesture to that which cannot be expressed.
    Metadata:
    Published as:
    Journal article    
    Status:
    Published
    Last Updated:
    1 year ago
    License:
    All Rights Reserved
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