poem index

sign up to receive a new poem-a-day in your inbox

About this poet

James Marcus Schuyler was born on November 9, 1923, in Chicago, Illinois. He attended Bethany College from 1941 to 1943 where he studied architecture, history, and literature, before joining the U.S. Navy.

In 1947, Schuyler moved to the Isle of Ischia in Italy for two years, where he lived in the rented house of W.H. Auden and worked as his secretary. Returning to America, Schuyler moved to New York, where he worked in a bookstore and shared an apartment with Frank O'Hara and John Ashbery, poets who later became known as the New York School.

From 1955 to 1961 he was a curator of circulating exhibitions at the Museum of Modern Art. As an editorial associate and critic for Art News he wrote a substantial amount of art criticism and came to befriend many New York artists, notably Willem and Elaine de Kooning, Jane Freilicher, and Fairfield Porter.

Between 1961 and 1973, Schuyler lived with Porter and his family in Southampton, Long Island, and their summer home on an island off the coast of Maine. Although well-known and successful by the early 1980s, Schuyler turned to a life of seclusion due to his poor health and financial difficulties. Schuyler lived in New York City until his death in 1991.

 

Schuyler's books of poetry include Other Flowers (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2010); Collected Poems (1995); Selected Poems (1988); A Few Days (1985); The Morning of the Poem (1980), winner of the Pulitzer Prize; The Home Book (1977); The Fireproof Floors of Witley Count: English Songs and Dances (1976); Song (1976); Hymn to Life (1974); The Crystal Lithium (1972); and Freely Espousing (1969); he also wrote novels and plays. His honors include a Longview Foundation award, the Frank O'Hara Prize, two National Academy for the Arts grants, an American Academy award, and an Academy of American Poets fellowship.

April

James Schuyler, 1923 - 1991
The morning sky is clouding up
and what is that tree,
dressed up in white? The fruit
tree, French pear. Sulphur-
yellow bees stud the forsythia
canes leaning down into the transfer
across the park. And trees in
skimpy flower bud suggest
the uses of paint thinner, so
fine the net they cast upon
the wind. Cross-pollination
is the order of the fragrant day.
That was yesterday: today is May,
not April and the magnolias
open their goblets up and
an unseen precipitation
fills them. A gray day in May.

From Other Flowers by James Schuyler. Copyright © 2010 by James Schuyler. Used by permission of Farrar, Straus and Giroux . All rights reserved.

From Other Flowers by James Schuyler. Copyright © 2010 by James Schuyler. Used by permission of Farrar, Straus and Giroux . All rights reserved.

James Schuyler

James Schuyler

James Marcus Schuyler was born on November 9, 1923, in Chicago, Illinois.

by this poet

poem
How about an oak leaf
if you had to be a leaf?
Suppose you had your life to live over
knowing what you know?
Suppose you had plenty of money

"Get away from me you little fool."

Evening of a day in early March,
you are like the smell of drains
in a restaurant where paté maison
is a slab of cold meat loaf
damp
poem
Tags of songs, like salvaged buttons
off vanished dresses, a date
Thursday a week at eight, some guilt
for a cab she not only could not afford but:
pretty immoment matter
greets Dorabella's mounting
or are they subtracting moments. "Surely
should be otherwise, should stop, be
thought about, have other quality
poem
I do not always understand what you say.
Once, when you said, across, you meant along.
What is, is by its nature, on display.

Words' meanings count, aside from what they weigh:
poetry, like music, is not just song.
I do not always understand what you say.

You would hate, when with me, to meet by day
What at