Poet and psychiatrist Merrill Moore was born in Tennessee to literary parents: both his father and mother were directors of Tennessee’s libraries, archives, and history. Moore earned his BA and MD from Vanderbilt University, where he became associated with a group of young poets known as the Fugitives. His first poems were published under the pen name “Dendric” in their literary magazine, the Fugitive.
Moore wrote many thousands of sonnets during his lifetime—at least 50,000. Described as distinctly American by critic Louis Untermeyer, Moore’s sonnets were conversational, loose, and syncopated. He published more than 40 collections of poetry, including The Noise That Time Makes (1929), Six Sides to a Man: New Sonnets (1935), Clinical Sonnets (1949), A Doctor’s Book of Hours Including Some Dimensions of the Emotions (1955), and Experimental Sonnets (1956).
Moore moved to Boston in 1930 and became a practicing psychiatrist specializing in alcoholism and suicide. He served in World War II, earning a Bronze Star and an Army Commendation medal. He was a friend of Robert Frost and Robert Lowell; Frost once described Moore as a “serious physician and serious artist [who] had no notion of being taken lightly; still there was something of the rogue there that was a part of his great charm. He seldom cracked a smile.” Moore died in Quincy, Massachusetts.