David Ferry. Courtesy Waywiser Press.

David Ferry (born 1924) is an American poet, translator, and academic.


Ferry was born in Orange, New Jersey. He grew up and attended Columbia High School amid the “wild hills” of suburban Maplewood, New Jersey.[1]

His undergraduate education at Amherst College was interrupted by his service in the United States Army Air Force during World War II. He ultimately received a B.A. from Amherst in 1946. He went on to earn a Ph.D. from Harvard University. and it was during his graduate studies that he published his first poems in the Kenyon Review.

From 1952 until his retirement in 1989, Ferry taught at Wellesley College where he was, for many years, the chairman of the English Department. He holds the title Sophie Chantal Hart Professor Emeritus of English at Wellesley. He has also taught writing at Boston University. Ferry was elected a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1998, and he is a fellow of the Academy of American Poets.

In 1958 Ferry married literary critic Anne Ferry (died 2006), who later became the 1st full-time woman member of the Harvard University English faculty; they had 2 children, Elizabeth, who became an anthropologist, and Stephen, who became a photojournalist.[2] Before moving to his current home in Brookline Massachusetts, Ferry lived across the Charles River in Cambridge, in the house where 19th-century journalist and women's rights advocate Margaret Fuller lived before she joined the Brook Farm community.[3]


Poet W.S. Merwin has described Ferry's work as having an "assured quiet tone" that communicates "complexities of feeling with unfailing proportion and grace." The critic Christopher Ricks regards Ferry as "the best poet now writing in America".


In 2000, Ferry’s book of new and selected poems and translations, Of No Country I Know, received the Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize from the Academy of American Poets, the Rebekah Johnson Bobbitt National Prize for Poetry from the Library of Congress (for the best work of poetry for the previous two years),, and the Bingham Poetry Prize. Ferry is also a recipient of the Harold Morton Landon Translation Award.[4]

In 2011, Ferry was awarded the $100,000 Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize.[5]



  • On the Way to the Island. Middletown, CT: Wesleyan University Press, 1960.
  • A Letter and Some Photographs: A group of poems. Seattle, WA: Sea Pen Press & Paper Mill, 1981.
  • Strangers: A book of poems. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 1983.
  • Dwelling Places: Poems and translations. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 1993.
  • Of No Country I Know: New and selected poems and translations. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 1999.


  • The Limits of Mortality: An essay on Wordsworth's major poems. Middletown, CT: Wesleyan University Press, 1959.


  • Gilgamesh: A new rendering in English verse. New York: Farrar, Straus, & Giroux, 1992.
  • The Odes of Horace. New York: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 1997.
  • The Eclogues of Virgil: A translation. New York: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 1999.
  • The Epistles of Horace; A translation. New York: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 2001.
  • The Georgics of Virgil. New York: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 2006.

Edited Edit

  • The Laurel Wordsworth. Dell, 1959.
  • (Editor with others) British Literature, 3rd edition (Ferry was not associated with earlier editions). Heath, 1974.
  • (Selector and author of introduction) David Moolten, Plums & Ashes. Boston: Northeastern University Press (Boston), 1994.
    Poet David Ferry Reads From His Collection 'Bewilderment'

    Poet David Ferry Reads From His Collection 'Bewilderment'

Except where noted, bibliographical information courtesy the Poetry Foundation.[4]

See alsoEdit



  1. "David Ferry". Newsletter of the Friends of the Amherst College Library 29. 2002-2003. Retrieved March 7, 2008.  (Described in his poem "Narcissus")
  2. Mehegan, David (February 7, 2006). "Anne Ferry, noted scholar of English, American poetry". Boston Globe. 
  3. Moore, Judith (July 28, 2005). "The Georgics of Virgil: Bilingual Edition".  Interview with Ferry about his translation of The Georgics of Virgil.
  4. 4.0 4.1 David Ferry b. 1924, Poetry Foundation, Web, Sep. 14, 2011.
  5. Patricia Cohen, David Ferry Wins the Ruth Lilly Poetry Award for Lifetime Achievement, ArtsBeat, New York Times, April 15, 2011. Web, Sep. 14, 2012.

External linksEdit

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