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Richard Wilbur Essay

1552 words - 6 pages

“It is true that the poet does not directly address his neighbors; but he does address a great congress of persons who dwell at the back of his mind, a congress of all those who have taught him and whom he has admired; that constitute his ideal audience and his better self” (“Richard Wilbur”, National Book Foundation). Richard Wilbur spoke this famous quote at his National Book Award speech in 1957. Many of the events in Wilbur’s life transitioned to his acceptance of this award, but he did not know what direction his life was going in at the time. From the events in his early childhood learning how to write from his maternal grandfather and great-grandfather, to his later becoming a World War II veteran and getting a degree from Harvard University, and everything in-between, Richard Wilbur spent the rest of his life creating a breathtaking assortment of poems which largely connected to his early life.
Richard Wilbur’s birth and early life led to his first spark of interest in writing at a young age when he met his grandfather and great-grandfather. He was born on March 1st, 1921 in New York City, New York (Haralson 759). Richard lived in North Caldwell, New Jersey for the rest of his pastoral childhood with his middle-class family (Gioia). They resided on a large property and they did not have many neighbors (Gioia). He enjoyed wandering off to random places on the property with his brothers, and he enjoyed the nature, which inspired some of his later poetry (Gioia).Wilbur’s maternal grandfather and his great-grandfather were both editors and Wilbur began to acquire a love for journalism stronger than his love for painting like his father (“Richard Wilbur”, Poetry Foundation). He enjoyed the company of his grandfather and great-grandfather very much and he learned a lot about not just being an editor, but a lot about basic writing skills that were necessary for entering the writing world (“Richard Wilbur”, enotes.com). Later in his childhood, as mere boy of only eight years old, a young Richard Wilbur published his first poem in John Martin’s Magazine (Struloeff). Richard’s adolescent interests that emerged from his maternal grandfather and great-grandfather led Richard Wilbur to pursue a college education.
Richard Wilbur’s time in college and fighting in Europe during World War II created a fresh outlook on poetry for this aspiring new writer. Wilbur attended Amherst College in the early 1940s and he worked on their newspaper’s staff (“Richard Wilbur”, Poetry Foundation). He would compose many things for their newspaper, such as editorials, short stories, and, of course, poems (“Richard Wilbur”, Poetry Foundation). After graduating from Amherst in 1942, Wilbur served in the United States Army and fought in World War II (B2). Many people who read Wilbur’s poetry said that his service in the Army during World War II affected his poetry. Adam Kirsch from the New Yorker, noted that Wilbur: “treats his war experiences in a style so elaborately...

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