My interest in Robert Lax and his uncommon life has for many years exceeded my interest in his poetry, which at its best can open up language and its attendant mysteries in surprising and lovely ways, but at its worst can seem a little silly, and even occasionally a waste of paper. For those of you who don’t know the poetry, I offer this example of the best from an early collection, Circus of the Sun:

The Lord, who created them,
Leaves them in slumber until it is time.
Slowly, slowly, His hand is upon the morning’s lyre,
Makes a music in their sleeping.

One of his worst poems, from a later collection—Poems (1962–1997)—consists of a sequence of alternating tercets, each simply repeating the word no or yes.