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Richard Wilbur

Some Words Inside of Words

Richard Wilbur "has maintained a conviction in the continuity of the world," observed John Gery in Ways of Nothingness, "his deliberately balanced work seems, in its very structure, to argue a belief in nature, as well as in the role of language in nature." Wilbur's interest in language and poetry was evident at an early age. Born in New York City in 1921, he published his first poem at the age of eight. His first book, The Beautiful Changes and Other Poems, was published when Wilbur was 26, shortly after he returned from service in the Army during World War II. Despite the trauma of war, Wilbur "remained someone who mastered a style early and continued to work within it." He is still recognized as one of the great American poets of the 1950s. Among his many honors, Wilbur counts two Pulitzer Prizes (1957, 1989) and a National Book Award (1957). He served as United States Poet Laureate from 1987 to 1988 and he has taught at Harvard University, Wesleyan University and Smith College. This animation was created by Anna Wilson. The poem is read here by Richard Wilbur.

To read this and other poems by Richard Wilbur, as well as biographical information about the poet, please visit the Poetry Foundation Web site.