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James Merrill

In life, there are no perfect affections.

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The simplest science book is over my head.

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Before trying a novel I wrote a couple of plays.

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I'd like to think the scientists need us - but do they? Did Newton need Blake?

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Strange about parents. We have such easy access to them and such daunting problems of communication.

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But those two plays left me on fresh terms with language. I didn't always have to speak in my own voice.

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Knowing some Greek helped defuse forbidding words - not that I counted much on using them. You'll find only trace elements of this language in the poem.

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At college I'd seen my dead frog's limbs twitch under some applied stimulus or other - seen, but hadn't believed. Didn't dream of thinking beyond or around what I saw.

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Arthur Young's Reflexive Universe - fascinating but too schematic to fit into my scheme. The most I could hope for was a sense of the vocabulary and some possible images.

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He puts his right hand lightly on the cup, I put my left, leaving the right free to transcribe, and away we go. We get, oh, 500 to 600 words an hour. Better than gasoline.

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