Richard Wilbur

(March 1, 1921)

Richard Wilbur Poems

1. A Baroque Wall-Fountain in the Villa Sciarra 6/3/2016
2. A Barred Owl 6/3/2016
3. After the Last Bulletins 6/3/2016
4. For C. 6/3/2016
5. Junk 6/3/2016
6. Looking into History 6/3/2016
7. Still, Citizen Sparrow 6/3/2016
8. Praise In Summer 6/7/2016
9. Lying 6/3/2016
10. Ceremony 6/3/2016
11. The House 3/18/2015
12. The Death Of A Toad 12/16/2014
13. Two Voices In A Meadow 4/4/2012
14. Year's End 12/10/2015
15. Puritans 1/3/2003
16. The Prisoner Of Zenda 1/3/2003
17. To The Etruscan Poets 1/3/2003
18. Having Misidentified A Wild-Flower 1/3/2003
19. The Ride 1/3/2003
20. Transit 1/3/2003
21. The Riddle 1/3/2003
22. Riddle 1/3/2003
23. Exeunt 1/3/2003
24. In The Smoking Car 1/3/2003
25. Matthew Viii,28 Ff. 1/3/2003
26. For K.R. On Her Sixtieth Birthday 1/3/2003
27. Worlds 1/3/2003
28. In A Churchyard 6/29/2003
29. A World Without Objects Is A Sensible Emptiness 6/23/2003
30. Orchard Trees, January 1/3/2003
31. A Hole In The Floor 1/13/2003
32. March 26, 1974 1/3/2003
33. June Light 1/20/2003
34. Advice To A Prophet 1/3/2003
35. Wedding Toast 1/3/2003
36. Epistemology 8/12/2003
37. The Beautiful Changes 7/3/2003
38. Shame 1/3/2003
39. Parable 1/3/2003
40. The Writer 1/3/2003

Comments about Richard Wilbur

  • John Beaton John Beaton (9/1/2018 1:08:00 AM)

    Richard Wilbur, for me, was an exemplar. I read his work and choked up. His sentiments were gracefully constrained, passionate all the same, and often overwhelmingly beautiful (e.g. his anthem for life-long love, For C) , but the craft was dazzling. Mayflies inspired me in form as well as in image. I met him once. He was a fine gentleman.

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  • Ruth Stalker (11/16/2017 9:20:00 AM)

    Where is On the Marginal Way by Richard Wilbur?

  • Nancy Howell (8/20/2015 4:54:00 PM)

    Where is Seed Leaves by Richard Wilbur?

  • Mandy Gair (8/15/2015 9:14:00 PM)

    I would love to see Mind included in Wilbur's list. Such a masterful combination of word play cleverness and artistry, as is most of his work.


    Mind in its purest play is like some bat
    That beats about in caverns all alone,
    Contriving by a kind of senseless wit
    Not to conclude against a wall of stone.

    It has no need to falter or explore;
    Darkly it knows what obstacles are there,
    And so may weave and flitter, dip and soar
    In perfect courses through the blackest air.

    And has this simile a like perfection?
    The mind is like a bat. Precisely. Save
    That in the very happiest of intellection
    A graceful error may correct the cave.

  • Rick Telander (6/30/2015 1:09:00 AM)

    I have long had Wilbur's poem, ``Man Running, '' on my home office bulletin board. When I first read it in the NewYorker Magazine, it gave me shivers. How did Wilbur know exactly how I felt when a man was on the run, a bad man, most certainly, pursued by hounds and the law and uniformed men with guns, and my hopes were all with the man running?
    Because we have ``fidelity to childhood games/And outlaws of romance, We darkly cheer him, whether or not/ He robbed that store, or bank, or fired that shot/And wish him, guiltily, a sporting chance.''
    When Richard Matt and David Sweat, convicted murderers, escaped from Dannemora, NY Penitentiary and were on the run for those three weeks in June, just ended, I was hoping dimly and remotely for their success. Perhaps, I dreamed, they would alight after their frenzied, tortuous run on a foreign, tropical beach and quietly live out their days in small victory against the man
    But Matt was killed by searchers, and Sweat was shot and captured. They were dangerous, guilty cons, but I still learned the news of their failure with a sigh.
    How did Wilbur know this side of us, we the civilized? Does he know how modern, how true his poem is?
    And not just for me, but for others I have spoken with and feel the same. In my dreams I often was running, running, from something gaining on me, in terror, heart-racing, alive and primal. No doubt it's because I, like Wilbur's narrator, ``Remembered from the day/ When we descended from the trees/Into the shadow of our enemies/Not lords of nature yet, but naked prey.''
    Still makes me shiver. Makes me think. What a poet. - Rick Telander

  • Frank Avon (10/28/2014 2:43:00 AM)

    I wish you could include 'Digging for China' in your PH list. It's delightful for children, humorous for adults, and clever for poets themselves. It pairs well with Elizabeth Bishop's fish, as unlike as they are (as one of my students pointed out to me): if you read them both, you'll see why. Regrettably it makes reference to 'a coolie, ' which in the political correctness of our day would make it highly objectionable, but one should remember the era in which it was wirtten (1956) . Here are its lush climactic lines: '... the earth went round / And showed me silver barns, the fields dozing / In palls of brightness, patens growing and gone / In the tides of leaves, and the whole sky china blue.' But you have to read to the last line to get the surprise and the witty point of the poem.

  • Saiom Shriver (3/31/2012 12:56:00 PM)

    The following is my favorite Richard Wilbur poem. It awakened my love of poetry, especially the first stanza.
    Many of us would be grateful if you added it to your Wilbur collection.

    Two Voices in a Meadow – Richard Wilbur

    A Milkweed

    Anonymous as cherubs
    Over the crib of God,
    White seeds are floating
    Out of my burst pod.
    What power had I
    Before I learned to yield?
    Shatter me, great wind:
    I shall possess the field

    A Stone

    As casual as cow-dung
    Under the rib of God,
    I lie where chance would have me,
    Up to the ears in sod.
    Why should I move? To move
    Befits a light desire.
    The sill of heaven would founder,
    Did such as I aspire.

Best Poem of Richard Wilbur

Boy At The Window

Seeing the snowman standing all alone
In dusk and cold is more than he can bear.
The small boy weeps to hear the wind prepare
A night of gnashings and enormous moan.
His tearful sight can hardly reach to where
The pale-faced figure with bitumen eyes
Returns him such a God-forsaken stare
As outcast Adam gave to paradise.

The man of snow is, nonetheless, content,
Having no wish to go inside and die.
Still, he is moved to see the youngster cry.
Though frozen water is his element,
He melts enough to drop from one soft eye
A trickle of the purest rain, a ...

Read the full of Boy At The Window


A woman I have never seen before
Steps from the darkness of her town-house door
At just that crux of time when she is made
So beautiful that she or time must fade.

What use to claim that as she tugs her gloves
A phantom heraldry of all the loves
Blares from the lintel? That the staggered sun
Forgets, in his confusion, how to run?

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