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Biography of Richard Wilbur

Richard Wilbur

Richard Wilbur (1921 - Present)

Richard Wilbur (born March 1, 1921, in New York City) is a United States poet. He graduated from Amherst College in 1942, then fought in Europe during World War II. After a teaching stint at Harvard, he moved to Wesleyan University as Professor of English, a position he occupied there for the rest of his career. He has been awarded the Pulitzer Prize and in 1987 was the second poet, after Robert Penn Warren to be named U.S. Poet Laureate.

From the start, Wilbur's poetry was characterized by a formal and refined beauty that was often imitated but never equalled. So formidable are his verse-making skills and his native wit that even the longest and most philosophical of his poems (see "The Mind-Reader" or "Walking to Sleep") carry the reader effortlessly along. It is possible for the average educated reader to finish Wilbur's collected poems at a single sitting, and to find the experience very enjoyable indeed. For this reason, Wilbur is sometimes dismissed as a lightweight or a reactionary. However, it seems likely that his poetry will survive long after his trendier contemporaries have been forgotten. Continuing and refining the tradition of Robert Frost and W. H. Auden, Wilbur's poetry finds illumination in everyday experiences and expresses it in beautiful, carefully wrought language.

Lesser-known was Wilbur's foray into lyric writing. He provided many of the finer lyrical touches in Leonard Bernstein's 1956 musical, Candide.

He is also noted as a translator, particularly of 17th century French dramas, whose original verse forms give Wilbur an opportunity to flex his muscles in both translation and verse. His translations of Molière and Jean Racine are well respected and many are still in print.


Biography by: This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License and uses material adapted in whole or in part from the Wikipedia article on Richard Wilbur.


34 Poems written by Richard Wilbur

The poems are by default sorted according to volume, but you can also choose to sort them alphabetically or by page views.

Volume | Alphabetically | [Page Views] | Comments | First Lines


Page ViewsPoemComments
21724 Boy at the Window Comments and analysis of Boy at the Window by Richard Wilbur 137 Comments
15194 The Beautiful Changes Comments and analysis of The Beautiful Changes by Richard Wilbur 12 Comments
8970 Wedding Toast
8293 A Hole In The Floor Comments and analysis of A Hole In The Floor by Richard Wilbur 3 Comments
7546 A Fire-Truck Comments and analysis of A Fire-Truck by Richard Wilbur 9 Comments
7327 A Fable Comments and analysis of A Fable by Richard Wilbur 7 Comments
6738 Advice to a Prophet
6260 For K.R. on her Sixtieth Birthday Comments and analysis of For K.R. on her Sixtieth Birthday by Richard Wilbur 7 Comments
5231 Riddle Comments and analysis of Riddle by Richard Wilbur 1 Comment
4742 Having Misidentified A Wildflower Comments and analysis of Having Misidentified A Wildflower by Richard Wilbur 18 Comments
4740 A Plain Song For Comadre
4389 June Light
4085 The Ride Comments and analysis of The Ride by Richard Wilbur 1 Comment
3932 To the Etruscan Poets Comments and analysis of To the Etruscan Poets by Richard Wilbur 230 Comments
3904 A World Without Objects is a Sensible Emptiness
3738 The Riddle
3339 March 26, 1974 Comments and analysis of March 26, 1974 by Richard Wilbur 3 Comments
3054 The Prisoner of Zenda
2864 Parable
2699 Worlds Comments and analysis of Worlds by Richard Wilbur 2 Comments
2574 Orchard Trees, January
2562 Matthew VIII,28 ff. Comments and analysis of Matthew VIII,28 ff. by Richard Wilbur 1 Comment
2497 Puritans
1853 Praise In Summer Comments and analysis of Praise In Summer by Richard Wilbur 5 Comments
1162 The Writer Comments and analysis of The Writer by Richard Wilbur 2 Comments
1128 Transit Comments and analysis of Transit by Richard Wilbur 2 Comments
1002 Exeunt Comments and analysis of Exeunt by Richard Wilbur 2 Comments
567 Shame
498 Juggler Comments and analysis of Juggler by Richard Wilbur 10 Comments
279 Epistemology
151 In a Churchyard
113 Museum Piece
55 Love Calls Us To The Things Of This World Comments and analysis of Love Calls Us To The Things Of This World by Richard Wilbur 1 Comment
22 In the Smoking Car


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