Richard Wilbur, Pulitzer Prize-winning poet, dies at 96

Richard Wilbur, the Pulitzer Prize-profitable poet and translator who intrigued and delighted generations of readers and theatergoers via his rhyming editions of Moliere and his personal verse on reminiscence, writing and nature, died. He was ninety six.

Wilbur died Saturday night time in Belmont, Massachusetts, together with his household by his aspect, in accordance with pal and fellow poet, Dana Gioia.

The U.S. poet laureate in 1987-88, Wilbur was typically cited as an inheritor to Robert Frost and different New England writers and was the uncommon versifier to take pleasure in a following past the poetry group. He was regarded — not all the time favorably — as a number one “formalist,” a grasp of old style meter and language who resisted modern tendencies. Wilbur was additionally recognized for his translations, particularly of Moliere, Racine and different French playwrights. His playful, rhyming couplets of Moliere’s “Tartuffe” and “The Misanthrope” have been typically referred to as the definitive editions of these basic seventeenth-century satires.

“Moliere has had no higher American good friend than the poet Richard Wilbur,” The New York Occasions’ Frank Wealthy wrote in 1982. “Mr. Wilbur’s lighter-than-air verse upholds the idiom and letter of Moliere, but it additionally satisfies the calls for of the stage.”

Wilbur’s experience in French literature ultimately introduced him to Broadway as a lyricist for Leonard Bernstein’s manufacturing of Voltaire’s “Candide,” which premiered in 1956. Quite a few different writers, together with Dorothy Parker and James Agee, had been unable to get together with the demanding staff of Bernstein and Lillian Hellman.

“Lillian had heard about my translation of Moliere’s ‘The Misanthrope’ and needed to take a look at it,” Wilbur advised The Related Press in 2006. “She determined that if I might translate one witty Frenchman, I’d be capable of do one other.”

He acquired quite a few literary honors, together with the Nationwide E-book Award and two Pulitzer Prizes, for “Issues of This World,” launched in 1956, and for “New and Collected Poems,” which got here out in 1989. Upon saying in 1987 that Wilbur would function poet laureate, Librarian of Congress Daniel J. Boorstin referred to as him “a poet for all of us, whose elegant phrases brim with wit and paradox.”

Good-looking and athletic into his 90s, with a heat, clear voice best for readings, he had an uncommon high quality for a serious poet: happiness. His Christian religion was unbroken by the…

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