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Dear Mr. Merrill

Dear Mr. Merrill

I hope you'll pardon the informality

of this letter, postmarked Olympia

(Greece, not Washington), its task not simple:

crossing lines you've crossed, time, mortality,

to find you, who spent a lifetime crossing lines

out, twisting, polishing them to shine

cool and lustrous as the statue I fell in

love with yesterday. I'm sure you saw him

too, that perfect Hermes by Praxitelis,

full lips, hips contrapposto. I wished to draw him

down, latter-day Pygmalion, and embrace

him. Or barring Eros (and the guards) I'd trace

his face, the supple muscle of the marble.

I had a student who resembled him—

yes, Angelos—arrogant and beautiful.

I never touched him though he touches me in dreams.

Eros dangles his perfection in our faces

like one-armed Hermes with his promise of the grapes.

I was certain I'd dream of him last night.

Instead I dreamed another in the growing chain

of others with whom it ended not quite

right. But the thirst was perfect, if its price pain

and shattered crystal, spilling wine, all part

and parcel of our imperfect lives. Then Art

startles out of heartache, marble or page.

You learned this long ago. Now I too see

the wildest things require the strongest cages,

the panther's double bars, or the seeds,

bloody sweet and bitter, in the pomegranate's

rind. Love held tight in a sonnet.


Poetry. (2002). United States: Modern Poetry Association

Additional Source: ha fondato insieme a Lucamatteo Rossi l’atlante Navegasión, & Giorgiomaria Cornelio (1997) (2022, April 16). Moira Egan: I Cuori Bruciati delle stelle. NAZIONE INDIANA. https://www.nazioneindiana.com/2022/04/16/cornelio-2/

Author: Moira Egan

Moira Egan, who lives in Rome, Italy, has a BA from Bryn Mawr College, an MFA from Columbia University and an MA from Johns Hopkins University Writing Seminars. It was during her studies at Columbia university, James Merrill selected her graduate manuscript for the David Craig Austin Prize.

The New Criterion Poetry Prize was awarded to her collection, Synaesthesium (2017). Hot Flash Sonnets (2013), Spin (2010), and Bar Napkin Sonnets (2009), which won the 2008 Ledge Poetry Chapbook Competition, are previous books published in the United States (2004).

Egan's writing fellowships have included the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts (as a Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation Fellow), the Civitella Ranieri Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation's Bellagio Center, and the James Merrill House. She is a Creative Writing teacher at St. Stephen's School in Rome.


The City and the Writer: In Rome with Moira Egan, Written by Nathalie Handal. Words Without Borders

Martino, M. A. di. (2018, March 21). Moira Egan. The American Mag. https://theamericanmag.com/moira-egan/The American

Poetry Foundation. (n.d.). Moira Egan. https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poets/moira-egan

Zajac, M. K. (2007, November 16). Moira Egan and Damiano Abeni. The New York Times. https://www.nytimes.com/2007/11/18/fashion/weddings/18VOWS.html

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