Louis Untermeyer

Louis Untermeyer (1885-1977). Courtesy Library of Congress and Wikimedia Commons.

Louis Untermeyer
Born October 1, 1885
New York City, New York, United States
Died December 18, 1977 (aged 92)
Newtown, Connecticut, United States
Occupation Author, anthologist, editor, poet
Nationality American

Louis Untermeyer (October 1, 1885 - December 18, 1977) was an American poet, anthologist, and editor, best known for his many poetry anthologies.[1] He was appointed the 14th Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress.[2]


Untermeyer was born in New York City. He married Jean Starr Untermeyer in 1906. Their son Richard was born in 1907 and died under uncertain circumstances in 1927. After a 1926 divorce, they were reunited in 1929, after which they adopted two sons, Laurence and Joseph. He married the poet Virginia Moore in 1927; their son, John Moore Untermeyer (1928), was renamed John Fitzallen Moore after a painful 1929 divorce. In the 1930s, he divorced Jean Starr Untermeyer and married Esther Antin. This relationship also ended in divorce in 1945.[3] In 1948, he married Bryna Ivens, an editor of Seventeen magazine.

He was known for his wit and his love of puns. For a while, he held Marxist beliefs, writing for magazines such as The Masses, through which he advocated that the United States stay out of World War I. After the suppression of that magazine by the U.S. government, he joined The Liberator, published by the Workers Party of America. Later he wrote for the independent socialist magazine The New Masses. He was a co-founder of "The Seven Arts", a poetry magazine that is credited for introducing many new poets, including Robert Frost, who became Untermeyer's long-term friend and correspondent.

According to Bennett Cerf, Untermeyer would sign virtually any piece of paper that someone placed in front of him, and Untermeyer inadvertently signed a few Communist proclamations.[4] According to Cerf, Untermeyer was not at all a communist, but he had joined several suspect societies that made him stand out.[4] He was named during the hearings by the House Committee on Un-American Activities investigating communist subversion. The Catholic War Veterans and "right wing organizations" began hounding Mr. Untermeyer.

The controversy surrounding Untermeyer led to his being blacklisted by industry. In 1950, he was a panelist during the first year of What's My Line?Goodson-Todman held out against the protests for some time, but finally veterans began picketing the theater. The pressure became too great, and the sponsor Jules Montenier said, "After all, I'm paying a lot of money for this. I can't afford to have my product picketed."[4] At that point, the producers told Untermeyer that he had to leave the program. This action led to Bennett Cerf becoming a permanent member of the program.[4]

Untermeyer was the author or editor of close to 100 books, from 1911 until his death. Many of them and his other memorabilia are preserved in a special section of the Lilly Library at the Indiana University. Schools used his Modern American and British poetry books widely, and they often formed students' introduction to poetry. He and Bryna Ivens Untermeyer created a number of books for young people, under the Golden Treasury of Children's Literature. He lectured on literature for many years, both in the US and other countries. 


In 1956 the Poetry Society of America awarded Untermeyer a Gold Medal. He served as Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress from 1961 until 1963.


Main article: Louis Untermeyer bibliography
New adam


  • The Younger Quire (parodies). New York: The Moods Publishing, 1911.
  • First Love: A lyric sequence. Boston: Sherman, French, 1911.
  • Challenge. New York: Century, 1914.
  • —and Other Poets (parodies). New York: Holt, 1916.
  • These Times. New York: Holt, 1917.
  • Including Horace, Harcourt, 1919.
  • The New Adam. New York: Harcourt, 1920.
  • Roast Leviathan. New York: Harcourt, 1923; reprinted, Arno, 1975.
  • Poems (with son, Richard Untermeyer). privately published, 1927.
  • Burning Bush. New York: Harcourt, 1928.
  • Adirondack Cycle. New York: Random House, 1929.
  • Food and Drink. New York: Harcourt, 1932.
  • First Words before Spring. New York: Knopf, 1933.
  • Selected Poems and Parodies. New York: Harcourt, 1935.
  • Long Feud: Selected poems. New York: Harcourt, 1962.
  • Labyrinth of Love. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1965.



  • For You with Love. Golden Press, 1961.
  • One and One and One. Crowell-Collier, 1962.
  • This Is Your Day. Golden Press, 1964.
  • Thanks: A Poem. Odyssey, 1965.
  • Thinking of You. Golden Press, 1968.
  • A Friend Indeed. Golden Press, 1968.
  • You: A poem (illustrated by Martha Alexander). Golden Press, 1969.


Except where noted, bibliographical information courtesy the Poetry Foundation.[5]

Audio / videoEdit

Swimmers by Louis Untermeyer01:59

Swimmers by Louis Untermeyer

  • The Poetry of Louis Untermeyer (tape). New York: McGraw-Hill, 1967.
  • Discovering Rhyme and Rhythm in Poetry (LP; with Julie Harris & David Wayne). New York: Caedmon, 1967.
  • American Thought: A literary critic (cassette). New York: Encyclopedia Americana / CBS News Audio Resource Library, 1975.

Except where noted, discographical information courtesy WorldCat[6]

See alsoEdit


  1. Louis Untermeyer, Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica Inc. Web, Mar. 29, 2013.
  2. "Poet Laureate Timeline: 1961-1970". Library of Congress. 2008. Retrieved 2008-12-19. 
  3. Staff writers (8 January 1983). "Esther Untermeyer, 88; A Zionist and Ex-Judge". The New York Times. Retrieved 2008-12-21. 
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 Bennett Cerf. Interview with Robert Hawkins. Interview #16, pp. 732-733 (audio/transcript). Columbia University Libraries Oral History Research Office. 23 January 1968. Retrieved on 2008-12-21.
  5. Louis Untermeyer 1885–1977, Poetry Foundation, Web, June 24, 2012.
  6. Search results = au:Louis Untermeyer + Audiobook, WorldCat, OCLC Online Computer Library Center Inc. Web, Apr. 3, 2015.

External links Edit

Audio / video
This page uses Creative Commons Licensed content from Wikipedia. (view article). (view authors).
This page uses content from Wikinfo . The original article was at Wikinfo:Louis Untermeyer.
The list of authors can be seen in the (view authors). page history. The text of this Wikinfo article is available under the GNU Free Documentation License and the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 license.

Ad blocker interference detected!

Wikia is a free-to-use site that makes money from advertising. We have a modified experience for viewers using ad blockers

Wikia is not accessible if you’ve made further modifications. Remove the custom ad blocker rule(s) and the page will load as expected.