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Richard Wilbur (Richard Purdy Wilbur) Biography

(1921– ), (Richard Purdy Wilbur), The Beautiful Changes, Ceremony, Things of This World, Advice to a Prophet

poems include verse appeared

American poet and translator; born in New York, educated at Amherst College and at Harvard, where he became an assistant professor in 1950. He was Poet Laureate of the United States in 19878. His first two collections of poetry, The Beautiful Changes (1947) and Ceremony (1950), gained him wide acclaim for the elegance and accomplishment with which his work reflected the post-war atmosphere of cautious optimism. His later volumes include Things of This World (1956), Advice to a Prophet (1961), and A Finished Man (1985); Walking to Sleep (1969) and The Mind-Reader (1976) contain original work and verse translations of poems by Villon, Borges, Brodsky, and Voznesensky. Many of his earlier poems form rational affirmations of commonly held social and cultural values. In the course of the 1960s his verse displayed an increasingly imaginative character and developed a challenging moral and psychological intensity. His best work illustrates his belief that ‘what poetry does with ideas is redeem them from abstraction’. New and Collected Poems appeared in 1988. His critical writings are collected in Responses (1976). Among his numerous adaptations of plays by French dramatists are his versions of Molière's Tartuffe (1963) and The School for Husbands (1992), and Racine's Andromache (1982). His works as an editor include his edition of Poe's Complete Poems (1959). Conversations with Richard Wilbur, edited by William Butts, appeared in 1990.

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