The Poem

(Critical Guide to Poetry for Students)

“The Morning of the Poem,” James Schuyler’s longest poem, extends to forty-four pages and is the title poem of the book for which the author won the Pulitzer Prize in literature in 1981. The lines, except those in a few short sections, are long, and the appearance of those lines is nearly uniform, most extending to a second line of indented text. The poem is written mostly in free verse.

The event that has propelled the poem into being is Schuyler’s awakening one morning, in July, 1976, at his mother’s home in rural East Aurora, New York. Domestic pleasures and comforts abound, nature provides opportunities for reverie and entertainment, and the poet’s mother is not overly intrusive: “Then to the kitchen to make coffee and toast with jam and see out/ The window two blue jays ripping something white while from my mother’s/ Room the radio purls.” Schuyler, however, misses New York City, where his life is centered and where his friends are. The painter Darragh Park, to whom the poem is dedicated, is especially on Schuyler’s mind; the “you” addressed in the poem is often Park, whose relationship with Schuyler seems ambiguous. The two appear not to be lovers, exactly, but they are probably more than good friends: “How easily I could be in love with you, who do not like to be touched,/ And yet I do not want to be in love with you, nor you with me,” Schuyler writes.

By the conclusion, July has slipped seamlessly into...

(The entire section is 569 words.)