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Old 10-15-2017, 04:03 PM
Cally Conan-Davies Cally Conan-Davies is offline
Join Date: Nov 2006
Location: Australia
Posts: 3,963
Default Richard Wilbur

. . . died last night at 10.45. He was 96.

The Beautiful Changes

One wading a Fall meadow finds on all sides
The Queen Anneís Lace lying like lilies
On water; it glides
So from the walker, it turns
Dry grass to a lake, as the slightest shade of you
Valleys my mind in fabulous blue Lucernes.

The beautiful changes as a forest is changed
By a chameleonís tuning his skin to it;
As a mantis, arranged
On a green leaf, grows
Into it, makes the leaf leafier, and proves
Any greenness is deeper than anyone knows.

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 thingsí selves for a second finding, to lose
For a moment all that it touches back to wonder.
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Old 10-15-2017, 04:21 PM
Michael Cantor Michael Cantor is online now
Join Date: Oct 2001
Location: Plum Island, MA; Santa Fe, NM
Posts: 10,639
Default Richard Wilbur is Dead

i heard though Rhina Espaillat that died peacefully last night, with his family present.
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Old 10-15-2017, 04:50 PM
Susan McLean Susan McLean is offline
Join Date: Jul 2001
Location: Iowa City, IA, USA
Posts: 7,632

A great man and poet. It was a privilege to have met him at West Chester. He was a wizard with words.

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Old 10-15-2017, 05:01 PM
Catherine Chandler's Avatar
Catherine Chandler Catherine Chandler is offline
Join Date: Oct 2004
Location: Canada and Uruguay
Posts: 5,666
Blog Entries: 33

Such sad, sad,news. He was such a great poet, and, like Susan, I consider it a great honor to have met him at West Chester on the occasion of his 90th birthday. I also traveled to Newburyport to hear him read at the 2007 Literary Festival, and as he signed my copy of his Collected, being the gentleman he was, struck up a conversation with me about some Chandlers he knew down in Maryland. I treasure the letter and two postcards he sent me over the past decade, and am happy I was able to send him a final letter a few weeks ago reiterating my admiration for his work and for his generosity of spirit for having encouraged me way back in 2003.


Give thanks for all things
On the plucked lute, and likewise
The harp of ten strings.

Have the lifted horn
Greatly blare, and pronounce it
Good to have been born.

Lend the breath of life
To the stops of the sweet flute
Or capering fife,

And tell the deep drum
To make, at the right juncture,

Then, in grave relief,
Praise too our sorrows on the
Cello of shared grief.

-- Richard Wilbur (Anterooms)

Last edited by Catherine Chandler; 10-15-2017 at 05:55 PM.
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Old 10-15-2017, 05:05 PM
John Isbell John Isbell is online now
Join Date: Mar 2017
Location: TX
Posts: 3,247

A master craftsman. I am sorry he is gone.
Reading his Andromache in class tomorrow: I shall tell the class.
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Old 10-15-2017, 05:13 PM
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Aaron Novick Aaron Novick is offline
Join Date: Sep 2016
Location: Halifax, Nova Scotia
Posts: 1,414

Looks like itís time to pick up the Wilbur collected from the local used bookstore. Iíve been eyeing it for a while.

It may actually have been the first poetry book I ever owned, as a kid, but no idea where that copy went.
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Old 10-15-2017, 05:21 PM
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Ed Shacklee Ed Shacklee is offline
Join Date: May 2010
Location: Takoma Park, MD
Posts: 3,659

This is very sad news, particularly for those who knew him, of course, but really for everyone. With no offense meant to those who are still alive, I sincerely doubt there's a finer poet living.


Hamlen Brook
By Richard Wilbur

xxAt the alder-darkened brook
xWhere the stream slows to a lucid jet
I lean to the water, dinting its top with sweat,
xAnd see, before I can drink,

xxA startled inchling trout
xOf spotted near-transparency,
Trawling a shadow solider than he.
xHe swerves now, darting out

xxTo where, in a flicked slew
xOf sparks and glittering silt, he weaves
Through stream-bed rocks, disturbing foundered leaves,
xAnd butts them out of view

xxBeneath a sliding glass
xCrazed by the skimming of a brace
Of burnished dragon-flies across its face,
xIn which the cloudlets pass

xxAnd a white precipice
xOf mirrored birch-trees plunges down
Toward where the azures of the zenith drown.
xHow shall I drink all this?

xxJoy's trick is to supply
xDry lips with what can cool and slake,
Leaving them dumbstruck also with an ache
xNothing can satisfy.

Last edited by Ed Shacklee; 10-15-2017 at 05:27 PM.
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Old 10-15-2017, 05:38 PM
Simon Hunt Simon Hunt is online now
Join Date: Aug 2004
Location: Monterey, CA USA
Posts: 1,910

A sad day indeed. Just yesterday, I gave my standard answer to the question of America's greatest living poet--Richard Wilbur--not knowing it would be the last time I could say it. The little one below may be my favorite of Wilbur's poems; I find it beautifully, immeasurably sad. I hope those who mourn Wilbur the man as well as the poet--his friends here and elsewhere, I mean--can be glad amidst their sadness that his life was so long and (from what I've heard) so well-lived.

To The Etruscan Poets

Dream fluently, still brothers, who when young
Took with your mothers' milk the mother tongue,

In which pure matrix, joining world and mind,
You strove to leave some line of verse behind

Like a fresh track across a field of snow,
Not reckoning that all could melt and go.
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Old 10-15-2017, 05:43 PM
Jesse Anger Jesse Anger is offline
Join Date: Dec 2010
Location: Montreal, Quebec, Canada.
Posts: 1,134

Glorious energy, again.
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Old 10-15-2017, 05:47 PM
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Allen Tice Allen Tice is offline
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I can do no better than repeat Susan Mclean's response.
Thank you, Ed, for the "Hamlen Brook."
Odd, but I unreasonably have felt that I had a nonexistent "special relationship" with Wilbur. Like an unworthy teenage fan swoon. Like he was more trustworthy than many. Don't want that to fade.
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