Robert Lax

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Robert Lax (1915–September 26, 2000) was an American poet, known in particular for his association with famed 20th century Trappist monk and writer Thomas Merton. A third friend of his youth, whose work sheds light on both Lax and Merton, was Ad Reinhardt. During the latter period of his life, Lax resided on the island of Patmos, Greece. Considered by some to be a self-exiled hermit, he nonetheless welcomed visitors to his home on the island, but did nothing to court publicity or expand his literary career or reputation.


Born in Olean, New York in 1915, to Sigmund and Rebecca Lax, he returned to that town only weeks before he died in his sleep, September 26, 2000, at age 84.

Lax attended Columbia University, in New York City, where he studied with the poet and critic Mark Van Doren. Lax graduated in 1938. On leaving school, he worked for several mainstream magazines before he began his process of moving into a simple life. An expert juggler, he worked in a circus for some time during his initial years of wandering.

He lived the last 35 years of his life in the Greek islands, most recently on Patmos.

Lax wrote hundreds of poems and dozens of books in his long career, but never reached the level of recognition that some of his peers say he deserves. Jack Kerouac called Lax "one of the great original voices of our times ... a Pilgrim in search of beautiful innocence"

One of his most acclaimed works was Circus of the Sun, a book of poems metaphorically...
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