Mr. Merrill uses a poet's palette of minutiae here -- birds, eyes, statues, sea shells, sands and a black swan. The images collected are hard, sharp, brilliant and the arrangement shows a clever wit and facile imagination. However, one has the feeling that the poet never really does touch the ground. Each poem is a glittering flight of attitudes, metaphors, and well-schooled phrases (excluding something like ""our poppied summers"" or ""spiral staircase of association""). Stimulating, with much handsome ado.