Richard Wilbur: Wikis

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Richard Wilbur
Born Richard Purdy Wilbur
March 1, 1921 (1921-03-01) (age 89)
New York City,
New York, United States
Occupation Poet
Nationality American
Alma mater Amherst College (1942)
Harvard University (1947)
Notable award(s) Pulitzer Prize for Poetry (1957, 1989)
Spouse(s) Mary Charlotte Hayes Ward (1942)

Richard Purdy Wilbur (born 1 March 1921) is an American poet and literary translator. He was appointed the sixth Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress in 1987, and twice received the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry, in 1957 and again in 1989.[1]

Contents

Biography

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Early years

Wilbur was born in New York, New York and grew up in North Caldwell, New Jersey[2]. He graduated from Amherst College in 1942 and then served in the United States Army from 1943 until 1945 during World War II. After the Army and graduate school at Harvard University, Wilbur taught at Wesleyan University for two decades and at Smith College for another decade. At Wesleyan he was instrumental in founding the award-winning poetry series of the Wesleyan University Press.[3][4] He received two Pulitzer Prizes for Poetry and is currently teaching at Amherst College.[5] He married Charlotte Hayes Ward in 1942 after his graduation from Amherst; she was a student at nearby Smith College.

Career

When only 8 years old, Wilbur published his first poem in John Martin's Magazine. His first book, The Beautiful Changes and Other Poems appeared in 1947. Since then he has published several volumes of poetry, including New and Collected Poems (Faber, 1989). Wilbur is also a translator, specializing in the 17th century French comedies of Molière and the dramas of Jean Racine. His translation of Tartuffe has become the standard English version of the play, and has been presented on television twice. (A 1978 production is available on DVD.)

Continuing the tradition of Robert Frost and W. H. Auden, Wilbur's poetry finds illumination in everyday experiences.

Less well-known is Wilbur's foray into lyric writing. He provided lyrics to several songs in Leonard Bernstein's 1956 musical, Candide, including the famous "Glitter and Be Gay" and "Make Our Garden Grow."

His honors include the 1983 Drama Desk Special Award for his translation of The Misanthrope, the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry and the National Book Award, both in 1957, the Edna St Vincent Millay award, the Bollingen Prize, and the Chevalier, Ordre National des Palmes Academiques. In 1987 Wilbur became the second poet, after Robert Penn Warren, to be named U.S. Poet Laureate after the position's title was changed from Poetry Consultant. In 1989 he won a second Pulitzer, this one for his New and Collected Poems. In 2006, Wilbur won the Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize. He has also produced several unpublished works such as "The Wing" and "To Beatrice". On October 14, 1994, he received the National Medal of Arts from President Clinton.

Bibliography

Poetry

  • The Beautiful Changes, and Other Poems (1947)
  • Ceremony, and Other Poems (1950)
  • A Bestiary (1955)
  • Things of This World (Harcourt, 1956) Pulitzer Prize for Poetry 1957 National Book Award 1957
  • Advice to a Prophet, and Other Poems (1961)
  • Walking to Sleep: New Poems and Translations (1969)
  • The Mind-Reader: New Poems (1976)
  • New and Collected Poems (Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1988) Pulitzer Prize for Poetry 1989
  • Mayflies: New Poems and Translations (2000)
  • Collected Poems, 1943–2004 (2004)
  • The Boy at the Window

Prose

  • Responses: Prose Pieces, 1953–1976 (Harcourt, 1976)
  • The Catbird's Song: Prose Pieces, 1963–1995 (Harcourt, 1997)

Sources

References

  1. ^ "Poet Laureate Timeline: 1981-1990". Library of Congress. 2008. http://www.loc.gov/poetry/laureate-1981-1990.html. Retrieved 2009-01-01. 
  2. ^ "Celebrate the life and work of poet Richard Wilbur", The Berkshire Eagle, June 24, 2005. "Wilbur spent His childhood in North Caldwell, NJ the son of a painter..."
  3. ^ [1]
  4. ^ [2]
  5. ^ https://www.amherst.edu/people/facstaff/rpwilbur42

External links


Quotes

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

What you project
Is what you will perceive; what you perceive
With any passion, be it love or terror,
May take on whims and powers of its own.

Richard Purdy Wilbur (born 1 March 1921) is an American poet, a former United States Poet Laureate and two-time winner of the Pulitzer Prize.

Contents

Sourced

What is the opposite of two? A lonely me, a lonely you.
There is no good art which is not consciously oblique. If you respect the reality of the world, you know that you can approach that reality only by indirect means.
  • Try to remember this: what you project
    Is what you will perceive; what you perceive
    With any passion, be it love or terror,
    May take on whims and powers of its own.

    Therefore a numb and grudging circumspection
    Will serve you best — unless you overdo it,
    Watching your step too narrowly, refusing
    To specify a world, shrinking your purview
    To a tight vision of your inching shoes,
    Which may, as soon as you come to think, be crossing
    An unseen gorge upon a rotten trestle.
    • "Walking to Sleep" (1969)
A thrush, because I'd been wrong,
Burst rightly into song
In a world not vague, not lonely,
Not governed by me only.
  • What you hope for
    Is that at some point of the pointless journey,
    Indoors or out, and when you least expect it,
    Right in the middle of your stride, like that,
    So neatly that you never feel a thing,
    The kind assassin Sleep will draw a bead
    And blow your brains out.
    • "Walking to Sleep" (1969)
  • What is the opposite of two? A lonely me, a lonely you.
    • "Opposites" (1973)
Your hands hold roses always in a way that says
They are not only yours...
  • In each art the difficulty of the form is a substitution for the difficulty of direct apprehension and expression of the object. The first difficulty may be more or less overcome, but the second is insuperable; thus every poem begins, or ought to, by a disorderly retreat to defensible positions. Or, rather, by a perception of the hopelessness of direct combat, and a resort to the warfare of spells, effigies, and prophecies. The relation between the artist and reality is an oblique one, and indeed there is no good art which is not consciously oblique. If you respect the reality of the world, you know that you can approach that reality only by indirect means.
    • As quoted by John Gery in Ways of Nothingness: Nuclear Annihilation and Contemporary American Poetry (1996)
  • A thrush, because I'd been wrong,
    Burst rightly into song
    In a world not vague, not lonely,
    Not governed by me only.
    • "Having Misidentified a Wild-Flower"
  • Your hands hold roses always in a way that says
    They are not only yours
    ; the beautiful changes
    In such kind ways,
    Wishing ever to sunder
    Things and things' selves for a second finding, to lose
    For a moment all that it touches back to wonder.
    • "The Beautiful Changes"

National Book Award Acceptance Speech (1957)

Full text online
Writing poetry is talking to oneself; yet it is a mode of talking to oneself in which the self disappears; and the products something that, though it may not be for everybody, is about everybody.
  • When a poet is being a poet — that is, when he is writing or thinking about writing — he cannot be concerned with anything but the making of a poem. If the poem is to turn out well, the poet cannot have thought of whether it will be saleable, or of what its effect on the world should be; he cannot think of whether it will bring him honor, or advance a cause, or comfort someone in sorrow. All such considerations, whether silly or generous, would be merely intrusive; for, psychologically speaking, the end of writing is the poem itself.
  • It is true that the poet does not directly address his neighbors; but he does address a great congress of persons who dwell at the back of his mind, a congress of all those who have taught him and whom he has admired; that constitute his ideal audience and his better self. To this congress the poet speaks not of peculiar and personal things, but of what in himself is most common, most anonymous, most fundamental, most true of all men. And he speaks not in private grunts and mutterings but in the public language of the dictionary, of literary tradition, and of the street. Writing poetry is talking to oneself; yet it is a mode of talking to oneself in which the self disappears; and the products something that, though it may not be for everybody, is about everybody.
  • Writing poetry, then, is an unsocial way of manufacturing a thoroughly social product. Because he must shield his poetry in its creation, the poet, more than other writers, will write without recognition. And because his product is not in great demand, he is likely to look on honors and distinctions with the feigned indifference of the wallflower. Yet of course he is pleased when recognition comes; for what better proof is there that for some people poetry is still a useful and necessary thing — like a shoe.

The Beacon

A beacon blinks at its own brilliance,
Over and over with cutlass gaze
Solving the Gordian waters...
  • Founded on rock and facing the night-fouled sea
    A beacon blinks at its own brilliance,
    Over and over with cutlass gaze
    Solving the Gordian waters ...
  • The beacon-blaze unsheathing turns
    The face of darkness pale
    And now with one grand chop gives clearance to
    Our human visions . . .

Love Calls Us To The Things Of This World

Outside the open window
The morning air is all awash with angels.
  • The eyes open to a cry of pulleys,
    And spirited from sleep, the astounded soul
    Hangs for a moment bodiless and simple
    As false dawn.
    Outside the open window
    The morning air is all awash with angels.
  • Now they are rising together in calm swells
    Of halcyon feeling, filling whatever they wear
    With the deep joy of their impersonal breathing...
  • The soul shrinks
    From all that it is about to remember,
    From the punctual rape of every blessed day
    ,
    And cries,
    "Oh, let there be nothing on earth but laundry,
    Nothing but rosy hands in the rising steam
    And clear dances done in the sight of heaven."
  • The soul descends once more in bitter love
    To accept the waking body

A World Without Objects is a Sensible Emptiness

Wisely watch for the sight
Of the supernova burgeoning over the barn,
Lampshine blurred in the steam of beasts, the spirit's right
Oasis, light incarnate.
My dog lay dead five days without a grave
In the thick of summer, hid in a clump of pine
And a jungle of grass and honey-suckle vine.
  • The tall camels of the spirit
    Steer for their deserts, passing the last groves loud
    With the sawmill shrill of the locust, to the whole honey of the
    arid
    Sun. They are slow, proud,
    And move with a stilted stride
    To the land of sheer horizon...
  • O connoisseurs of thirst,
    Beasts of my soul who long to learn to drink
    Of pure mirage, those prosperous islands are accurst
    That shimmer on the brink
    Of absence; auras, lustres,
    And all shinings need to be shaped and borne.
  • Wisely watch for the sight
    Of the supernova burgeoning over the barn,
    Lampshine blurred in the steam of beasts, the spirit's right
    Oasis, light incarnate.

The Pardon

I dreamt the past was never past redeeming:
But whether this was false or honest dreaming
I beg death's pardon now. And mourn the dead.
  • My dog lay dead five days without a grave
    In the thick of summer, hid in a clump of pine
    And a jungle of grass and honey-suckle vine.

    I who had loved him while he kept alive
    Went only close enough to where he was
    To sniff the heavy honeysuckle-smell
    Twined with another odor heavier still
    And hear the flies' intolerable buzz.
  • Well, I was ten and very much afraid.
    In my kind world the dead were out of range
    And I could not forgive the sad or strange
    In beast or man.
  • Last night I saw the grass
    Slowly divide (it was the same scene
    But now it glowed a fierce and mortal green)
    And saw the dog emerging.
  • I started in to cry and call his name,
    Asking forgiveness of his tongueless head.
    ... I dreamt the past was never past redeeming:
    But whether this was false or honest dreaming
    I beg death's pardon now. And mourn the dead.

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