Robert Fitzgerald


Biography of Robert Fitzgerald

Robert Stuart Fitzgerald (12 October 1910 – 16 January 1985) was a poet, critic and translator whose renderings of the Greek classics "became standard works for a generation of scholars and students." He was best known as a translator of ancient Greek and Latin. In addition, he also composed several books of his own poetry.

Fitzgerald grew up in Springfield, Illinois and graduated from The Choate School (now Choate Rosemary Hall) in Wallingford, Connecticut. He entered Harvard in 1929, and in 1931 a number of his poems were published in Poetry magazine. After graduating from Harvard in 1933 he became a reporter for The New York Herald Tribune for a year. Later he worked several years for TIME magazine, as mentioned by Whittaker Chambers in his 1952 memoir, Witness.

In World War II, he served in the U.S. Navy in Guam and Pearl Harbor. Later he was an instructor at Sarah Lawrence and Princeton University, poetry editor of The New Republic. He succeeded Archibald MacLeish as Boylston Professor of Rhetoric and Oratory Emeritus at Harvard in 1965 and served until his retirement in 1981.

He was a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets. From 1984 to 1985 he was appointed Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress, a position now known as Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry, the United States' equivalent of a national poet laureate, but did not serve due to illness. In 1984 Fitzgerald received a L.H.D. from Bates College.

Fitzgerald is widely known as one of the most poetic translators into the English language. He also served as literary executor to Flannery O'Connor, who was a boarder at his home in Redding, Connecticut, from 1949 to 1951. Fitzgerald's wife at the time, Sally Fitzgerald, compiled O'Connor's essays and letters after O'Connor's death. Benedict Fitzgerald, Barnaby Fitzgerald and Michael Fitzgerald are sons of Robert and Sally.

Fitzgerald was married three times. He later moved to Hamden, Connecticut, where he died at his home after a long illness.

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Night Images

Late in the cold night wakened, and heard wind,
And lay with eyes closed and silent, knowing
These words how bodiless they are, this darkness
Empty under my roof and the panes rattling
Roughed by wind. And so lay and imagined
Somewhere far off black seas heavy-shouldered
Plunging on sand and the ebb off-streaming and
Thunder forever. So lying bethought me, friend,
What traffic ghouls have, or this be legend,

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