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Richard Ghormley Eberhart (April 5, 1904 – June 9, 2005) was an American poet who published more than a dozen books of poetry and approximately twenty works in total. He received the 1966 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry for Selected Poems: 1930-1965 and a National Book Award in 1977 for Collected Poems: 1930-1976.

Biography

Early years

Eberhart was born in 1904 in Austinmarker, a small town in southeast Minnesotamarker. He grew up on a estate called Burr Oaks, since partitioned into hundreds of residential lots. He published a volume of poetry called Burr Oaks in 1947, and many of his poems reflect his youth in rural America.

Eberhart began college at the University of Minnesotamarker, but following his mother's death from cancer in 1921—the event that prompted him to begin writing poetry—he transferred to Dartmouth Collegemarker. After graduation he worked as a ship's hand, among other jobs, then studied at St. John's College, Cambridgemarker, where I.A. Richards encouraged him to continue writing poetry, and where he took a further degree. After serving as private tutor to the son of King Prajadhipok of Siammarker in 1931-1932, Eberhart pursued graduate study for a year at Harvard Universitymarker.

His first book of poetry A Bravery of Earth was published in London in 1930. It reflected his experiences in Cambridge and his experience as a ship's hand. Reading the Spirit published in 1937 contains one of his best known poems "The Groundhog".

He taught for eight years at the St. Mark's School (1933-1941), where Robert Lowell was one of his students. In 1941 he married Helen Butcher. They had two children.

During World War II he served in the U.S. Naval Reserve; this experience led him to write, in one of his best-known poems, "The Fury of Aerial Bombardment":

:::::Was man made stupid to see his own stupidity?
:::::Is God by definition indifferent, beyond us all?
:::::Is the eternal truth man's fighting soul
:::::Wherein the Beast ravens in its own avidity?


Career

In 1945, Eberhart published Poems: New and Selected containing "The Fury of Aerial Bombardment" and other poems written during his service including "Dam Neck, Virginia" and "World War". He also edited War and the Poet: An Anthology of Poetry Expressing Man's Reactions to the Present claiming to be the first collection of poems based on war.

After the war, Eberhart worked for six years for his wife's family's floor wax company, the Butcher Polish Company. Burr Oaks was his first work published after the war in 1947 followed by Brotherhood of Men in 1949. In 1950 he was a founder of the Poets' Theatre in Cambridge, Massachusettsmarker.

From the early 1950s until his retirement he dedicated himself to writing poems and teaching at institutions of higher education, including the University of Washingtonmarker, Brown Universitymarker, Swarthmore Collegemarker, Tufts Universitymarker, Trinity Collegemarker, University of Connecticutmarker, Columbia University, University of Cincinnatimarker, Wheaton Collegemarker, Princeton Universitymarker and Dartmouth Collegemarker. He taught for 30 years at Dartmouth as professor of English and poet-in-residence, where he was known for his encouragement of young poets.

Eberhart published Undercliff: Poems 1946-1953 containing Fragment of New York in 1953. Eberhart wrote a number of dramatic works in the 1950s and early 1960s which were performed regionally. These works included The Apparition, The Visionary Farms, Triptych, The Mad Musicians and Devils and Angels. In 1962, these works were published as Collected Verse Works.

Eberhart was sent to San Franciscomarker by The New York Times to report on the Beat poetry scene. Eberhart wrote a piece published in the September 2, 1956 New York Times Book Review entitled "West Coast Rhythms" that helped call national attention to the Beat generation, and especially to Allen Ginsberg as the author of Howl, which he called "the most remarkable poem of the young group" (Allen Ginsberg, Howl: Original Draft Facsimile, Transcript & Variant Editions, Fully Annotated by Author, with Contemporaneous Correspondence, Account of First Public Reading, Legal Skirmishes, Precursor Texts & Bibliography, edited by Barry Miles [HarperPerennial, 1995], p. 155).

President Dwight Eisenhower appointed Eberhart as a member of the Advisory Committee on the Arts for the National Cultural Centre in 1959. As well, Eberhart was Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress for 1959-61, and was awarded a Bollingen Prize in 1962.

The Quarry: New Poems published in 1964 contained letters in verse to W. H. Auden and William Carlos Williams as well as elegies, lyrics, character sketches, and monologues. His Selected Poems, 1930–1965 (1965) won the 1966 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry. Collected Poems, 1930–1976, which appeared in 1976, won the National Book Award in 1977. He was New Hampshiremarker's Poet Laureate from 1979 to 1984, and was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters in 1982. Eberhart has also won the Shelley Memorial Award, the Harriet Monroe Memorial Award, and the Frost Medal from the Poetry Society of America.

Bibliography

  • A Bravery of Earth 1930
  • Reading the Spirit 1937
  • Song and Idea 1942
  • War and the Poet: An Anthology of Poetry Expressing Man's Attitudes to War from Ancient Times to the Present 1945
  • Poems: New and Selected 1945
  • Burr Oaks 1947
  • Brotherhood of Men 1949
  • Undercliff: Poems 1946-1953 1953
  • Great Praises 1957
  • Collected Verse Plays 1962
  • The Quarry: New Poems 1964
  • Selected Poems: 1930-1965 1965
  • Shifts of Being 1968
  • Collected Poems: 1930-1976 1976
  • The Long Reach: New and Uncollected Works 1948-1984 1984
  • New and Selected Poems: 1930-1990 1990
Poetry
  • "The Groundhog"
  • "Dam Neck, Virginia"
  • "World War"
  • "The Fury of Aerial Bombardment"
  • "Fragment of New York, 1929"


References



  • Allen Ginsberg, Howl: Original Draft Facsimile, Transcript & Variant Editions, Fully Annotated by Author, with Contemporaneous Correspondence, Account of First Public Reading, Legal Skirmishes, Precursor Texts & Bibliography, edited by Barry Miles [HarperPerennial, 1995], p. 155


  • Jahan Ramazani, Richard Ellmann, and Robert O'Clair, The Norton Anthology of Modern and Contemporary Poetry, 3rd ed., vol. 1: Modern Poetry (New York & London: W.W. Norton, 2003), pp. 740-42.


Further reading

  • Stuart T. Wright, Richard Eberhart: A Descriptive Bibliography 1921-1987 Meckler 1989 ISBN 0-88736-346-6
  • Bernard F. Engel, Richard Eberhart Twayne Publishing 1972 ISBN 0-8057-0228-8
  • Joel Roache, Richard Eberhart: Progress of an American Poet Oxford University Press 1971 ISBN 0-19-501263-1
  • Sydney Lea, Jay Parine and Robin M. Barone (editors), Richard Eberhart: A Celebration Middlebury College Publications 1980 ISBN 0-917241-00-2


External links




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