This collection includes, in their entirety, the six earlier volumes of Wilbur's poetry and, in addition, 27 new poems and a cantata. Wilbur's poetry embraces an enormous range of human experience, an evocative celebration of nature, and always a pervasive grace.
These collected poems of the Poet Laureate of the United States are, despite the prevailing view of modern poetry, a monument to the accessible and the beautiful. The language is lush, full "of heat and juice and heavy jammed excess," and deeply thoughtful. His concern for careful human stewardship of nature extends also to the artist's creative struggle to capture the truth of the world. One poignant poem, "The Writer," addresses this through his reaction to listening outside the door as his daughter earnestly struggles to compose a story on her typewriter: "It is always a matter, my darling/Of life or death, as I had forgotten. I wish/ What I wished you before, but harder." The collection won the Pulitzer Prize for poetry in 1989.