Edmund White has suggested that there is something alchemical about James Merrill’s poetry. He suggests that the “alertness to transubstantiation is the religious impulse behind Merrill’s verse.” Take for example this excerpt from a poem from The Inner Room
Open just one
Tiny bronze-purple thurible: briquettes!
Black as coal next year, they’ll catch, they’ll climb,
Repeating their tribe’s miniature
Resurrection myth, where seed is saviour.
Morning glory seeds described by their vivid physical qualities and their gift of potential. Religion buoyed by botany. A smart conceit.
And so for day 618