Richard Eberhart Analysis

Other literary forms

(Poets and Poetry in America)

In addition to poetry, Richard Eberhart wrote Of Poetry and Poets (1979), a prose collection divided into three parts and an epilogue. The first section is a compilation of lectures and essays on the craft of poetry. The second is a critical section in which Eberhart discusses the work of poets such as Wallace Stevens, Theodore Roethke, W. H. Auden, and Robert Frost. Five interviews and Eberhart’s National Book Award acceptance speech round out the book.

Eberhart’s verse plays also deserve mention. The first, The Apparition, printed in Poetry (Chicago) in 1950 and produced the same year, is a short play in which a salesman encounters a young girl who wanders into his room; she talks with him, enjoys a few drinks, and then disappears into the hallway. The second play, The Visionary Farms, was begun at Yaddo, the artists’ colony near Saratoga Springs, New York, when the poet worked in a studio apartment next to William Carlos Williams. The play was produced in May, 1952, at the Poets’ Theatre (of which Eberhart was cofounder) in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The Visionary Farms, which records the collapse of a family’s fortune, is a satire on hucksterism. “Hurricane” Ransom misappropriates more than a million dollars from the protagonist, Fahnstock, and leaves him on the verge of financial ruin. On another level, the play is a study of American enterprise and a protest against greed. Eberhart’s verse dramas are largely considered to be experiments, and though they are interesting adjuncts of the poet’s craft, they are not among his finer achievements.


(Poets and Poetry in America)

Richard Eberhart filled one of the fifty chairs of the American Academy of Arts and Letters and served as honorary president of the Poetry Society of America. Among his other distinguished honors are the Shelley Memorial Award in 1952, an Academy Award in Literature from the National Institute of Arts and Letters in 1955, the Bollingen Prize for Poetry in 1962, the Pulitzer Prize in 1966 for Selected Poems, 1930-1965 (New Directions), the Academy of American Poets Fellowship in 1969, the National Book Award in 1977 for Collected Poems: 1930-1976, and the Frost Medal in 1986. He served as consultant in poetry (poet laureate) to the Library of Congress (1959-1961) and as poet laureate of New Hampshire. Philosophical and timeless matters of human life are explored throughout his work in unpretentious language and with gentle wit and humor. Eberhart’s poetic career spanned six decades, and the poet served as a model of inspiration to such poets as Sydnea Lea, Dion Pincus, Richard Moore, Michael Benedikt, and Leo Connellan.


(Poets and Poetry in America)

Engel, Bernard F. Richard Eberhart. New York: Twayne, 1971. An introductory biography and critical study of selected works. Includes a bibliography of Eberhart’s works.

Fox, Margalit. “Richard Eberhart, 101, Poet Who Wed Sense and Intellect.” The New York Times, June 14, 2005, p. A21. This obituary contains a short biography of the poet and notes his many achievements.

Ginsberg, Allen. To Eberhart from Ginsberg: A Letter About “Howl,” 1956, An Explanation by Allen Ginsberg of His Publication “Howl” and Richard Eberhart’s “New York Times” Article “West Coast Rhythms.” Lincoln, Mass.: Penmaen Press, 1976. Ginsberg’s essay casts light on both Eberhart and the times in which both poets lived.

Hoffman, Daniel G. “Hunting a Master Image: The Poetry of Richard Eberhart.” Special issue of Hollins Critic 1, no. 4 (October, 1964). Devoted to Eberhart’s poetics.

Lea, Sydney, Jay Parini, and M. Robin Barone, eds. Richard Eberhart: A Celebration. Hanover, N.H.: Kenyon Hill, 1980. A collection of essays on Eberhart and his work.

Negative Capability 6 (Spring/Summer, 1986). This special issue on Eberhart contains letters to the poet; commentaries and critical articles on his work; an interview; and poems, essays, and addresses by Eberhart. It is edited by Sue Brannan Walker and Jane Mayhall.

Roache, Joel. Richard Eberhart. New York: Oxford University Press, 1971. This book is a biography that covers the twists and turns of Eberhart’s career from 1904 to 1961. Contains a selected bibliography.

Van Dore, Wade. Richard Eberhart: Poet of Life in Death. Tampa, Fla.: American Studies Press, 1982. A small pamphlet that deals specifically with Eberhart’s study of death.

Wright, Stuart. Richard Eberhart: A Descriptive Bibliography, 1921-1987. Westport, Conn.: Meckler, 1989. Bibliography that looks at the works produced by Eberhart through 1987.