THE MIND-READER: New Poems by Richard Wilbur


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In a sense Richard Wilbur has been the victim of his own elegance. Highly acclaimed for his first two volumes, The Beautiful Changes (1947) and Things of This World (1956), he was dropped in the Sixties by critics who, in a decade of disorder, found his serenity and strict formalism neither audacious nor original enough to qualify for attention. Fashion favored the poets of experience. Nonetheless, Wilbur continued to refine his characteristic clear and graceful diction until his poems seem effortless in a way that his earlier work, which drew attention to its rhetorical tricks, did not. Of twenty-two new poems and nine translations (from the French and Russian) there are a handful so perfect as to seem destined for anthologizing. Several, including the title poem, have as their subject the relation of the observant eye to the thing perceived, thus nimbly incorporating their own aesthetic. Wilbur draws those connections between natural and moral phenomena that can only be realized by writing poetry--and this is a poetry of tact, delicacy, and wit that seems certain to endure.

Pub Date: April 15th, 1976
Publisher: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich