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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
22400 Boy at the Window Comments and analysis of Boy at the Window by Richard Wilbur 143 Comments
15692 The Beautiful Changes Comments and analysis of The Beautiful Changes by Richard Wilbur 36 Comments
9384 Wedding Toast
8862 A Hole In The Floor Comments and analysis of A Hole In The Floor by Richard Wilbur 3 Comments
7173 Advice to a Prophet
6717 For K.R. on her Sixtieth Birthday Comments and analysis of For K.R. on her Sixtieth Birthday by Richard Wilbur 11 Comments
5591 Riddle Comments and analysis of Riddle by Richard Wilbur 1 Comment
5214 Having Misidentified A Wildflower Comments and analysis of Having Misidentified A Wildflower by Richard Wilbur 18 Comments
4668 June Light
4615 To the Etruscan Poets Comments and analysis of To the Etruscan Poets by Richard Wilbur 233 Comments
4344 The Ride Comments and analysis of The Ride by Richard Wilbur 1 Comment
4146 A World Without Objects is a Sensible Emptiness
3624 March 26, 1974 Comments and analysis of March 26, 1974 by Richard Wilbur 3 Comments
3475 The Prisoner of Zenda
3234 Parable
3019 Worlds Comments and analysis of Worlds by Richard Wilbur 2 Comments
2872 Orchard Trees, January
2676 Puritans
1563 The Writer Comments and analysis of The Writer by Richard Wilbur 2 Comments
1516 Transit Comments and analysis of Transit by Richard Wilbur 2 Comments
1413 Juggler Comments and analysis of Juggler by Richard Wilbur 17 Comments
833 Shame
745 Epistemology
559 Museum Piece
546 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
418 In a Churchyard
367 In the Smoking Car
271 Matthew VIII,28 ff. Comments and analysis of Matthew VIII,28 ff. by Richard Wilbur 1 Comment
250 Praise In Summer Comments and analysis of Praise In Summer by Richard Wilbur 7 Comments
235 A Plain Song For Comadre
207 Exeunt Comments and analysis of Exeunt by Richard Wilbur 2 Comments
202 A Fire-Truck Comments and analysis of A Fire-Truck by Richard Wilbur 13 Comments
189 A Fable Comments and analysis of A Fable by Richard Wilbur 7 Comments
1 The Riddle


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