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Poems Of Richard Wilbur Paperback – September 25, 1963

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

RICHARD WILBUR, one of America’s most beloved poets, has served as poet

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Mariner Books (September 25, 1963)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0156722518
  • ISBN-13: 978-0156722513
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.6 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,555,749 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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4 of 7 people found the following review helpful By William Krischke VINE VOICE on March 2, 2002
Format: Paperback
This book, with the amazingly original title, is a collection of four of Wilbur's earliest books -- The Beautiful Changes, Ceremony, Things of This World, and Advice to a Prophet. Rather counterintuitively, it begins with the latest book, Advice to a Prophet, and works its way backwards, so that if you read it front to back, you get a sort of anti-development of the young poet.
I would say that there are about fifteen good poems here, and two or three really great poems. Wilbur works with form meter and rhyme, which seems exceedingly rare in more modern poets, and when he does it well, it is a thing of beauty. "Love Calls us to the Things of This World" -- a poem about waking, angels, and laundry-- is wonderful, as is a naturalistic farewell letter to a dead friend, "The Mill". But too often he is clever with form -- too clever for his own good. He can say a thing beautifully, but you still wonder if it was worth saying.
A personal theory: Regardless of style, form, content, agenda or tone, a poet's singular task to develop a unique and distinct voice. Anyone worth listening to (poet, musician, philosopher, artist) has a distinct way of seeing the world, and the point of the art is to communicate that to the rest of us in some manner. Enough theory; enough to say that what seems to be lacking most in this collection of Wilbur's poetry is this quality of voice. I cannot tell you what type of poet Wilbur is, short of a formalist, and that's not the point. The point is there is no point. And that's the problem.
To come back down to earth. This poetry is accessible (sometimes at the cost of being profound) and is a good study in form.
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6 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Doug Vaughn HALL OF FAME on December 10, 1999
Format: Paperback
Richard Wilbur will probably never be viewed as a 'great' poet. His poems seem slight and perhaps too easy to comprehend in an age that has put a premium on dense and obscure poetry. His major success as a writer has been in his wonderful translations of Moliere's plays, but his poems offer the same kind of appeal as his translations - a keen sense of fun in lanuage, a fresh perspective and an economy of expression. I suspect that even readers who don't normally turn to poetry would enjoy the sense of play that underlies so many of these poems and the elegance with which he expresses playfulness. Even when the subject is serious, the leaness of the language, the selection of just the right word or phrase for the purpose, gives Wilbur's work a kind of classical timelessness. And if one likes reading aloud, the sound of Wilbur's lines has a full pleasantness that is a joy to the ear. Reading any of his poems a few times will leave phrases in the mind just begging to be repeated.
This is not poetry to rival Milton or Eliot for either thematic grandeur or emotional impact. But for the shear joy of thought embodied in language there is no contemporary poet whose work is more satisfying.
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