Knopf Poem-a-Day: April 30, James Merrill’s “Trellis”


A final toast, from the grape of James Merrill (1926-1995). Like the vine in this poem, we will bloom again next year. And don’t miss the last installment in our Cavafy audio celebration below—Merrill, who lived in Athens on and off during his lifetime and spoke Greek, would approve.

Thank you for reading with us this month.

The Knopf Poetry Team


Again, ramshackle skeleton,
You spare the house what is about to happen.

Out of nowhere, up from the bleak ground,
My greedy twinings overcome your frame,

Climb, put blue suns forth, suicidally thicken,
And, spoiled at summer’s end no doubt

By so much wooden acquiescence, brag
Of having woken a response in you.

Who can say? A night is coming, I remember,
When I share your body with frost. A second,

And I withdraw into myself for winter.
Never mind. I’ll bloom next year.

You only, love’s uncomprehending object,
Will be replaced after a season or two.

Cavafy audio bonus today: click here to listen to Daniel Mendelsohn reading “One of Their Gods.”

Learn more about James Merrill’s Collected Poems and browse other titles by James Merrill.

Excerpt from COLLECTED POEMS © 2001 by The Literary Estate of James Merrill at Washington University. Excerpted by permission of Alfred A. Knopf, a division of Random House, Inc., New York. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

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