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William Jay Smith

(1918 / Louisiana, USA)

Biography of William Jay Smith

William Jay Smith poet

William Jay Smith, born in April 22nd, 1918, is an American poet. He was appointed the nineteenth Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress from 1968 to 1970. He was born in Winnfield, Louisiana. He was brought up at Jefferson Barracks, Missouri, south of St. Louis. William Jay Smith received his A.B. and M.A. from Washington University in St. Louis, and went on with his studies at Columbia University, and Oxford University as a Rhodes Scholar. In 1947 Smith married the poet Barbara Howes, and they lived for a time in England and Italy. They had two sons, David Smith, and Gregory. They divorced in the mid-1960s. William Jay Smith was a poet in residence at Williams College from 1959–1967, taught at Columbia University between the years of 1973 and 1975. He serves as the Professor Emeritus of English literature at Hollins University. As of 2008, he has residencies both in Cummington, Massachusetts and Paris, France. Smith is the author of ten collections of poetry of which two were finalists for the National Book Award. Smith has been member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters since 1975. His work has appeared in Harper's Magazine, The New York Review of Books.

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Polar Bear

The Polar Bear never makes his bed;
He sleeps on a cake of ice instead.
He has no blanket, no quilt, no sheet
Except the rain and snow and sleet.
He drifts about on a white ice floe
While cold winds howl and blizzards blow
And the temperature drops to forty below.
The Polar Bear never makes his bed;
The blanket he pulls up over his head

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