Editorial Reviews. Review. “An astonishing performance As near to [a masterpiece] as The Changing Light at Sandover by [Merrill, James]. The Genius and Generosity of Jimmy Merrill from the December 22, of Langdon Hammer’s James Merrill: Life and Art [NYR, December 22, ]. of Merrill’s long poem The Changing Light at Sandover is indebted to. Selected Poems does excerpt The Changing Light at Sandover, presenting a sampler of a poet who wrote “New Critical Rococo” in the words of August.

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I suggested The Golden Gate by Vikram Seth, which is essentially a straightforward but witty novel written in the quasi-sonnet form that Pushkin used for Eugene Onegin. In fact, its major contribution to the form is to destabilize the spiritual revelation.

The Changing Light at Sandover by James Merrill | : Books

Throughout the book, Merrill uses upper-case letters to indicate when voices are speaking from the board.

He is the master of blank verse, couplets, sonnets, terza rimaand villanelle. Another figure of central importance in the poem is Plato and he of course never exposed himself much in his dialogues, instead making characters of his peers to illustrate his points from behind a curtain.

Merrill with an Ouija board, chaging dictation. Readers in small towns will know the world Of interest rippling out from such a topic, Know by their own case that “small town” is Largely a state of mind, a medium Wherein suspended, microscopic figments –Boredom, malice, curiosity– Catch a steadily more revealing light.

And where, we wondered to the void, Was Tiberius these days?

I am no where near smart enough for this thing, but it’s so beautiful. Currently reading this extraordinary epic.


He also claimed to give voice to otherworldly spirits including a first-century Jew named Ephraim, and Ligh a ouija board guide. Already established in the iames among the finest poets of his generation, Merrill chagning a surprising detour when he began incorporating occult messages into his work. I read this for an American Poetry course for my master of arts–all the class whined about it’s length. Where will I— This operation—does he mean I’ll die?

Jan 03, Donald Krieger rated it it was amazing Recommends it for: Languages Latina Edit links. Transcripts t On strength of its impeccable language and atmosphere alone, The Changing Light at Sandover is worthy of all sorts of praise. Aug 01, Roger Brunyate rated it it was ok Shelves: Already established in the s among the finest lyric poets of his generation, Merrill made a surprising detour by incorporating extensive occult messages into his work although a poem from the s, ” Voices from the Other World “, was the first to quote such “otherworldly” voices.

But for me it felt more like eavesdropping on a conversation between two old friends and lovers who secure their closeness within a private circle of shared experiences, mutual friends, and secret language.

I slammed into a wall in the middle of this, and kind of gave up on it. The Waste Land is difficult, yes, confusing, yes, sometimes nonsensical, yes, but its confusions sing a song of truth that spells out a beautiful and chilling message that is relevant to life as we live it.

So many voluminous verse cosmologies, so little time.

Very dense it is Poetry. Merrill happened to be a formalist poet in an age when formalism had waned but his qt are particularly well-suited to the materials presented by his contacts on “the other side”. What I liked about this incredible epic poem is not so much the premise James Merrill and his real-life lover hovering over a “milk glass tabletop” using a Willoware teacup for a Ouji Board pointer as they commune with spirits in a “shoebox of a parlor” but the spectacular language and phrasing.


Hardcoverpages. InMerrill published his first ouija board narrative cycle, with a poem for each of the letters A through Z, calling it “The Book of Ephraim”.


A dramatis personae halfway through the book starts with God Biology, the Four Archangels, and the Nine Muses, assigns solo roles to figures as diverse as Akhnaton, Montezuma, Nefertiti, and W.

Return to Book Page. James Merrill is one sandkver the best poets of the late 20th century. A poem in the form of a Ouija board, a horde of deceased characters being channeled through Merrill’s partnership with his lover, and fittingly dense ruminations on metaphysical concepts makes this daunting poem worth the read and the re Admittedly, Merrill is not for everyone.

This page was last edited on 13 Novemberat No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher. I recommend this one!

Why was he telling us? He moved to a small town on the Maine coast and began to use the ouija board in his parlor overlooking the sea, spurred on by his boyfriend.