Christian culture 基督教文化学刊

Richard Wilbur: Greatest American Poet of the Last Half-Century

Author: David Lyle JEFFREY, Distinguished Professor of Literature and the Humanities,Baylor University



Richard Wilbur is widely acknowledged as the finest craftsman among American poets writing since mid-twentieth century. What sets him further apart is his unusually positive and affirmative attitude toward life, graciousness and unselfishness without a trace of the bitterness, cynicism or the nihilism such as has characterized the work of many other American poets who were his contemporaries. He is strikingly a-political, refusing to engage in the partisan quarrels which, during the last decades especially, have grown in intensity and so fractured the literary community in America. As a Christian poet in the tradition of George Herbert and Gerard Manley Hopkins, Wilbur celebrates creation and encourages spiritual re-creation in his poetry. This paper analyzes these unique features of Wilbur’s poems by reading some of his works closely, starting from Wilbur’s latest volume Anterooms and tracing back to his other volume in 2004. The author argues that Richard Wilbur has been a prophet and more than a prophet. As a senior poet, his voice represents the America’s younger self, a self still open to the beauty of a world renewed and ever-new.



Richard Wilbur, Robert Frost, Bible, gratitude, peacefulness


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