JAMES MERRILL: 1926-1995

None of us can shine all the time, but now and then a nonpareil comes along who puts on a good show of inexhaustible radiance. America lost one such rare soul last week when James Merrill died of a heart attack at the age of 68. He was a novelist, an essayist and a playwright, but it's as a poet-the author of 11 volumes of verse, with a 12th forthcoming in March-that he made his ineradicable mark.

If he was, as the son of a founding partner of Merrill Lynch, an unlikely poet, that's a condition he shared with Wallace Stevens...

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