James Merrill

Poetry on Peace

James Merrill (1926-1995):

The Country of a Thousand Years of Peace (1959)

Edited by Peter Y. Chou


                                                          to Hans Lodeizen (1924-1950)

Here they all come to die,
Fluent therein as in a fourth tongue.
But for a young man not yet of their race
It was a madness you should lie

Blind in one eye, and fed
By the blood of a scrubbed face;
It was a madness to look down
On the toy city where

The glittering neutrality
Of clock and chocolate and lake and cloud
Made every morning somewhat
Less than you could bear;

And makes me cry aloud
At the old masters of disease
Who dangling high above you on a hair
The sword that never falling, kills

Would coax you still back from that starry land
Under the world, which no one sees
Without a death, its finish and sharp weight
Flashing in his own hand.

James Merrill (1926-1995)
"The Country of a Thousand Years of Peace"
The Country of a Thousand Years of Peace and Other Poems
Knopf, New York, 1959, p. 2

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