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Former U.S. Poet Laureate Richard Wilbur

The literary impact of Richard Wilbur's work in the United States is immense. The American literary canon is better for his careful craftsmanship and deep consideration of life's intricacies. His translations and the lives he has touched through his teaching have an impact well beyond the realm of poetry. When we read his poems, we are reminded of poetry's ability to move us on many levels.
Richard Wilbur, widely regarded as one of the most productive American poets, was the country's second Poet Laureate. Wilbur's elevated the literary stage and tremendously influenced American culture with his precise, formal style and deliberate examination of life's profound truths.

Richard Purdy Wilbur was born on March 1, 1921, in New York City, and he attended Columbia University. Writing poetry as a young boy sparked his lifelong interest in books. After participating in World War II, he returned to Harvard University, where he was influenced by the New Critics and developed his formal, exact writing style.

Wilbur's poetry is distinguished by the technical mastery and conceptual depth that characterize his writing. His use of classical poetry patterns and lyrical, refined language earned him widespread acclaim. His writings covered a wide range of topics, from observations of the natural world and discussions of human nature to contemplations of the creative process.

Important Writings and Results: Wilbur's first book, "The Beautiful Changes and Other Poems" (1947), marked his arrival as a major new voice in American poetry. He kept releasing collections that were hailed by critics, such as "Things of This World" (1956), which was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award.

Wilbur was appointed U.S. Poet Laureate in 1987 and used his position to promote poetry's significance in American culture. During his time in office, he worked hard to increase the visibility and resonance of poetry with the general people.

Wilbur left an indelible mark not only as a poet but also as a highly regarded translator, most notably of Molière's plays. He shaped the brains of future poets through his teaching at universities such as Harvard, Wellesley, and Wesleyan.

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