John Hall Wheelock
Biography of John Hall Wheelock
John Hall Wheelock, poet, scholar, and editor, was born 9 September 1886 in Rockaway, Long Island, NY son of William Efner Wheelock and Emily Charlotte Hall. His grandfather on his mothers side, Reverend John Hall, D.D. was the pastor of the Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church in New York. His grandfather on his fathers side, William Almy Wheelock, was a highly successfuly businessman and civic leader.
John Hall Wheelock grew up in New York, spending his childhood summers on the shore at East Hampton, Long Island, where he developed an affection for the sea. He graduated Harvard in 1908, class poet. As a student he was editor of the Harvard Monthly; and published his first work, "Verses by Two Undergraduates", anonymously with his friend Van Wyck Brooks during their freshman year.
He spend two years in Germany, working on a post graduate degree at the University of Goettingen and the Univesity of Berlin. During this time he wrote a great deal of verse. Returning to America in 1910, he became associated with Charles Scribner and Sons, and by 1932 became a director of the corporation. In 1942 he became treasurer, and in 1947, upon the death of Maxwell Perkins, he became senior editor.
In 1936, his published volume of Collected Works was awarded the Golden Rose by the New England Poetry Society, as the most distinguished contribution to American poetry of that year. For his work "Poems Old and New" he received the Ridgely Torrence Memorial Award in 1956, and the Borestone Mountain Poetry Award in 1957. In 1962 he won the Bollingen Prize; in 1965 the Signet Society Medal, Harvard University, for distinguished achievement in the arts. In 1972 he was awarded the Gold Medal by the Poetry Society of America for notable achievement in poetry.
John Hall Wheelock was a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, Poetry Society of America (Vice president, 1944-1946), National Institute of Arts and Letters (vice-president), and the Academy of American Poets (chancellor, 1947-71; honorary fellow, 1974-1978). He was an honorary consultant in American letters to the Library of Congress.
During his career he worked with such distinguished authors as Thomas Wolfe and James Truslow Adams.
John Hall Wheelock's Works:
Verses by Two Undergraduates. 1905.
The human fantasy. Sherman, French. 1911.
The belovéd adventure. Sherman, French. 1912.
Love and Liberation. Sherman, French. 1913.
Dust and Light. Scribner. 1919.
The Black Panther. Scribner. 1922.
The Bright Doom, Scribner, 1927
Collected Poems, 1911-1936, Scribner, 1936
Poems Old and New, Scribner, 1956
The Gardner and Other Poems, Scribner, 1961
Dear Men and Women: New Poems, Scribner, 1966
By Daylight and in Dream: New and Collected Poems, 1904-1970, Scribner, 1970
In Love and Song: Poems, Scribner, 1971.
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John Hall Wheelock Poems
Grasshopper, your fairy song And my poem alike belong To the dark and silent earth From which all poetry has birth;
Life burns us up like fire, And Song goes up in flame: The radiant body smoulders To the ashes whence it came.
Exile From God
I do not fear to lay my body down In death, to share The life of the dark earth and lose my own, If God is there.
Sleep on -- I lie at heaven's high oriels, Over the stars that murmur as they go Lighting your lattice-window far below; And every star some of the glory spells
Love Knocks At The Door
In the pain, in the loneliness of love, To the heart of my sweet I fled. I knocked at the door of her living heart, "Let in -- let in --" I said.
The Unknown Beloved
I dreamed I passed a doorway Where, for a sign of death, White ribbons one was binding About a flowery wreath.
The Black Panther
There is a panther caged within my breast, But what his name, there is no breast shall know Save mine, nor what it is that drives him so,
All my love for my sweet I bared one day to her. Carelessly she took it, And like a conqueror
Sunday Evening In The Common
Look—on the topmost branches of the world The blossoms of the myriad stars are thick; Over the huddled rows of stone and brick,
His gaze through the bars forever going by him Has grown so dulled it takes in nothing else. To him it seems a thousand bars go by him,
A Sun, Which Is A Star
'A sun, a shadow of a magnitude,' So Keats has written- yet what, truly, could Come closer to pure godhead than a sun,
Earth Take Me Back....
I have been dying a long time In this cool valley-land, this green bowl ringed by hills- The cup of a giant flower whose petals are
The lightning flashed, and lifted The lids of heaven apart, The fiery thunder rolled you All night long through my heart.
The air is full of dawn and spring; Outside the room I see A swallow, like a shaft of light, Shift sideways suddenly.
Life burns us up like fire,
And Song goes up in flame:
The radiant body smoulders
To the ashes whence it came.
Out of things it rises
With a mouth that laughs and sings,
Backward it fades and falters
Into the char of things.