Elizabeth Bishop’s Influence on James Merrill: An Analysis of Select Poems

  • Alexandra Lopez-Nadal
  • Gavin Sourgen


Poets Elizabeth Bishop and James Merrill had an intimate, respectful friendship evident from decades of exchanged letters. However, the influence Bishop had on Merrill is best understood in reading his poetry. Merrill enlightened readers of Bishop’s effect on his work during a Key West Literary Seminar dedicated to her in 1993, fourteen years after her passing. The Key West Literary Seminar for Bishop was the first of its kind. Merrill was elated to have such an event dedicated solely to Bishop. An attendee and friend wrote Merrill as having said, “Of all the splendid and curious work belonging to my time, these are the poems (the earliest appeared when I was a year old) that I love best and tire of least. And there will be no others.”