Richard Wilbur

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Richard Purdy Wilbur (born March 1, 1921), is an American poet.


  • 1 Life
  • 2 Career
  • 3 Bibliography
  • 4 External links


Wilbur was born in New York City and educated at Amherst College and Harvard. He graduated from Amherst College in 1942 and then served in the US Army from 1943 until 1945 during World War II. After the Army and graduate school at Harvard University, Wilbur taught at Wesleyan University for two decades and at Smith College for another decade. He is the winner of two Pulitzer Prizes.


When only eight years old, Wilbur published his first poem in John Martin's Magazine. His first book, The Beautiful Changes and Other Poems appeared in 1947. Since then he has published several volumes of poetry, including New and Collected Poems (Faber, 1989). Wilbur is also a translator, specializing in the 17th century French comedies of Molière and the dramas of Jean Racine. Continuing the tradition of Robert Frost and W. H. Auden, Wilbur's poetry finds illumination in everyday experiences. Less well-known is Wilbur's foray into lyric writing. He provided many of the finer lyrical touches in Leonard Bernstein's 1956 musical, Candide.

His honors include a Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award, both in 1957, the Edna St Vincent Millay award, the Bollingen Prize, and the Chevalier, Ordre National des Palmes Academiques. In 1987 Wilbur became the second poet, after Robert Penn Warren, to be named U.S. Poet Laureate. In 1989 he won a second Pulitzer, this one for his New and Collected Poems. In 2006, Wilbur won the Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize. He has also produced several unpublished works such as "The Wing" and "To Beatrice".


  • 1957: Things of This World Pulitzer Prize & National Book Award
  • 1961: Advice to a Prophet, and other Poems
  • 1989: New and Collected Poems Pulitzer Prize
  • 2000: Mayflies
  • 2004: Collected Poems, 1943-2004
  • Online Wilbur poems
  • Essays on a Wilbur poem
  • Ibiblio Wilbur page
  • The Paris Review Interview
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