Redux: Richard Wilbur (1921–2017)

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72 (Winter 1977)
I often don’t write more than a couple of lines in a day of, let’s say, six hours of staring at the sheet of paper. You can have these unlocked   pieces delivered straight to your inbox every   Sunday by signing up for the Redux newsletter. When I woke with someone in my bed, I would recite it to him or her:
The eyes open to a cry of pulleys,
And spirited from sleep, the astounded soul
Hangs for a moment bodiless and simple
As false dawn. 205 (Summer 2013)
After I stopped believing in God, I would sometimes wake in a panic at being alone without supernatural support. “Letter from Williamsburg,” by   Kristin Dombek
Issue no. 22
Issue no. A simple invention. Every week, the editors of The Paris Review   lift the paywall on a selection of interviews, stories, poems, and more from the magazine’s archive. Order now, and get a copy of our   upcoming   Women at Work   for only $10.     Your reputation for saying things of interest  
    Will not be marred, if you hasten to other topics,  
    Nor will the delicate web of human trust  
    Be ruptured by that airy fabrication. So I memorized Richard Wilbur’s poem “Love Calls Us to the Things of This World,” to say to myself in the morning. Outside the open window
The morning air is all awash with angels …
“Tell the Truth,” by   Robert Hahn
Issue no. No one is harmed
if you call your wife to claim you have seen the Pacific
at dawn, running for miles over the quick
blossom-and-fade of an image, on the glassy sand,
when the mist and the lightly stippled sea were a single
tone of gray. 127 (Summer 1993)
    To claim, at a dead party, to have spotted a grackle,  
    When in fact you haven’t of late, can do no harm. —Richard Wilbur, “Lying”
You wake and reach for the phone. Composition for me is, externally at least, scarcely distinguishable from catatonia. Meanwhile,
far below, the trackless beach and the green,
heaving ocean are beginning, only now,
to be disclosed in the wide panes of your room …
 
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Photo: Vincent Tolentino
 
This week, we celebrate the late Richard Wilbur, whose poems have a way of turning up where we might not expect them—in an essay on threesomes by Kristin Dombek, for example, or a poem about lying by Robert Hahn. Richard Wilbur, The Art of Poetry No.