Delmore Schwartz

Delmore Schwartz (December 8, 1913 – 1966) was an American poet from Brooklyn, New York. His first published work was the short story “In Dreams Begin Responsibilities“, which was published in 1937 in the Partisan Review. This and other short stories and poems were collected and released in his first book, In Dreams Begin Responsibilities and Other Stories (1938). It was well-received, and made him a well-known figure in New York intellectual circles. There he became known as a democratic Socialist, and associated with Irving Howe.

Over the next three decades he published numerous stories, poems, and plays, and edited the Partisan Review from 1943 to 1955. In 1959, he became the youngest recipient of the Bollingen Prize, awarded for a collection of poetry he released that year, Summer Knowledge: New and Selected Poems. His poem “Calmly We Walk Through This April’s Day” from this collection, along with “In Dreams Begin Responsibilities”, inspired the Star Trek movie Star Trek: Generations.

The expression “In Dreams Begin Responsibilities” is a favorite among literary intellectuals and shows up in unexpected places (i.e. the movie Deep Cover).

However, his later life was marred by alcoholism and finally insanity; this downward spiral following his initial success formed the basis for Saul Bellow’s novel Humboldt’s Gift.

In 1962, Schwartz began teaching creative writing at Syracuse University. One of his students was Lou Reed, who dedicated several songs to his mentor (most notably “European Son”).

Poems by Delmore Schwartz