Richard Eberhart

Richard Eberhart (1904-2005). Courtesy Wikimedia Commons

Richard Eberhart
Born Richard Ghormley Eberhart
April 5, 1904
Austin, Minnesota, USA
Died June 9, 2005 (aged 101)
Hanover, New Hampshire, USA
Occupation Poet
Nationality United States
Alma mater University of Minnesota
Dartmouth College
Harvard University
Spouse(s) Helen Butcher (m. 1941)

Richard Ghormley Eberhart (April 5, 1904 - June 9, 2005) was an American poet and academic.[1] He published more than a dozen books of poetry, and approximately 20 works in total. He received the 1966 Pulitzer Prize in Poetry and a National Book Award in 1977.



Eberhart was born in 1904 in Austin, a small town in southeast Minnesota. He grew up on a 40-acre (16-hectare) estate called Burr Oaks (since partitioned into hundreds of residential lots). He published a volume of poetry called Burr Oaks in 1947, and many of his poems reflect his youth in rural America.

Eberhart began college at the University of Minnesota, but following his mother's death from cancer in 1921 – the event that prompted him to begin writing poetry – he transferred to Dartmouth College. After graduation he worked as a ship's hand, among other jobs, then studied at St. John's College, Cambridge, where I.A. Richards encouraged him to continue writing poetry, and where he took a further degree. After serving as private tutor to the son of King Prajadhipok of Siam in 1931-1932, Eberhart pursued graduate study for a year at Harvard University.

His first book of poetry A Bravery of Earth was published in London in 1930. It reflected his experiences in Cambridge and his experience as a ship's hand. Reading the Spirit, published in 1937, contains one of his best known poems, "The Groundhog".

He taught for eight years at the St. Mark's School (1933-1941), where Robert Lowell was one of his students. In 1941 he married Helen Butcher. They had two children.

During World War II he served in the U.S. Naval Reserve; this experience led him to write, in one of his best-known poems, "The Fury of Aerial Bombardment":

Was man made stupid to see his own stupidity?
Is God by definition indifferent, beyond us all?
Is the eternal truth man's fighting soul
Wherein the Beast ravens in its own avidity?


In 1945, Eberhart published Poems: New and selected, containing "The Fury of Aerial Bombardment" and other poems written during his service including "Dam Neck, Virginia" and "World War". He also edited War and the Poet: An Anthology of Poetry Expressing Man's Reactions to the Present claiming to be the first collection of poems based on war.

After the war, Eberhart worked for six years for his wife's family's floor wax company, the Butcher Polish Company. Burr Oaks was his first work published after the war in 1947 followed by Brotherhood of Men in 1949. In 1950 he was a founder of the Poets' Theatre in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

From the early 1950s until his retirement he dedicated himself to writing poems and teaching at institutions of higher education, including the University of Washington, Brown University, Swarthmore College, Tufts University, Trinity College, University of Connecticut, Columbia University, University of Cincinnati, Wheaton College, Princeton University and Dartmouth College. He taught for 30 years at Dartmouth as professor of English and poet-in-residence, where he was known for his encouragement of young poets.

Eberhart published Undercliff: Poems 1946-1953 containing Fragment of New York in 1953. Eberhart wrote a number of dramatic works in the 1950s and early 1960s which were performed regionally. These works included The Apparition, The Visionary Farms, Triptych, The Mad Musicians and Devils and Angels. In 1962, these works were published as Collected Verse Works.

Eberhart was sent to San Francisco by The New York Times to report on the Beat poetry scene. Eberhart wrote a piece published in the September 2, 1956, New York Times Book Review entitled "West Coast Rhythms" that helped call national attention to the Beat generation, and especially to Allen Ginsberg as the author of Howl, which he called "the most remarkable poem of the young group."[2]

The Quarry: New Poems published in 1964 contained letters in verse to W. H. Auden and William Carlos Williams as well as elegies, lyrics, character sketches, and monologues.


Eberhart was a member of the Advisory Committee on the Arts for the National Cultural Centre in 1959. As well, Eberhart was Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress for 1959-61, and was awarded a Bollingen Prize in 1962.

His Selected Poems, 1930-1965 (1965) won the 1966 Pulitzer Prize in Poetry. Collected Poems, 1930-1976, which appeared in 1976, won the National Book Award in 1977.

He was New Hampshire's Poet Laureate from 1979 to 1984, and was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters in 1982.

Eberhart also won the Shelley Memorial Award, the Harriet Monroe Memorial Award, and the Frost Medal from the Poetry Society of America.



  • A Bravery of Earth. London: Cape, 1930; New York: Cape & Smith, 1931.
  • Reading the Spirit. London: Chatto & Windus, 1936; New York: Oxford University Press, 1937.
  • Song and Idea. London: Chatto & Windus, 1940; New York: Oxford University Press, 1942.
  • A World-View. Medford, MA: Tufts College Press, 1941.
  • Poems, New and Selected. Norfolk, CT: New Directions, 1944.
  • Burr Oaks. New York: Oxford University Press, 1947.
  • Brotherhood of Men. Pawlet, VT: Banyan Press, 1949.
  • An Herb Basket. Cummington, MA: Cummington Press, 1950.
  • Selected Poems. New York: Oxford University Press, 1951.
  • Undercliff: Poems 1946-1953. London: Chatto & Windus, 1953; New York: Oxford University Press, 1954.
  • Great Praises. New York: Oxford University Press, 1957.
  • The Oak: A Poem. Hanover, NH: Pine Tree Press, 1957.
  • Collected Poems 1930-1960. New York: Oxford University Press, 1960.
  • The Quarry: New Poems. New York: Oxford University Press, 1964.
  • The Vastness and Indifference of the World. Cambridge, MA: Ferguson Press, 1965.
  • Fishing for Snakes. privately printed, 1965.
  • Selected Poems, 1930-1965. New York: New Directions, 1965.
  • Thirty-one Sonnets. New York: Eakins, 1967.
  • Shifts of Being: Poems. New York: Oxford University Press, 1968.
  • The Achievement of Richard Eberhart: A Comprehensive Selection of His Poems (edited by Bernard F. Engle), Glenview, IL: Scott, Foresman, 1968.
  • Three Poems. Cambridge, MA: Pym Randall, 1968.
  • Fields of Grace. New York: Oxford University Press, 1972.
  • The Groundhog Revisiting. Cambridge, MA: Pomegranate Press, 1972.
  • Two Poems. Westchester, PA: Aralia Press, 1975.
  • Collected Poems, 1930-1976. New York: Oxford University Press, 1976.
  • Poems to Poets. Lincoln, MA: Penmaen Press, 1976.
  • Hour, Gnats. Davis, CA: Putah Creek Press, 1977.
  • Survivors. Northport, NY: BOA Editions, 1979.
  • Ways of Light: Poems, 1972-1980. New York: Oxford University Press, 1980.
  • New Hampshire: Nine Poems. Rosedale, MA: Pym Randall, 1980.
  • Four Poems. Winston-Salem, MA: Palaemon, 1980.
  • Florida Poems. Gulfport, FL: Konglomerati, 1981.
  • The Long Reach: New and Uncollected Poems, 1948-1984. New York: New Directions, 1984.
  • Snowy Owl. Winston-Salem, MA: Palaemon, 1984.
  • Throwing Yourself Away. New York: Stone House, 1984.
  • Spite Fence. Charleston, WV: Mountain State, 1984.
  • Collected Poems, 1930-1986. New York: Oxford University Press,, 1988.
  • Maine Poems. New York: Oxford University Press, 1989.
  • New and Selected Poems, 1930-1990. New York, NY: Blue Moon, 1990.


  • Poetry As a Creative Principle. Norton, MA: Wheaton College, 1952.
  • Of Poetry and Poets (criticism). Urbana, IL: University of Illinois Press, 1979.


  • Free Gunner's Handbook (editor, with others) revised edition, 1944.
  • War and the Poet: An Anthology of Poetry Expressing Man's Attitude to War from Ancient Times to the Present (editor, with Selden Rodman). Devin-Adair, 1945
    • reprinted, Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1974.
  • Dartmouth Poems (12 volumes, editor and contributor). Hanover, NH: Dartmouth Publications, 1962-1971.
  • To Eberhart from Ginsberg: A Letter about "Howl," 1956, Lincoln, MA: Penmaen Press, 1976.

Except where noted, bibliographical information courtesy the Poetry Foundation.[3]

Audio / videoEdit

Theodore Spencer: Reading his own poems / Richard Eberhart: Reading his own poems (LP). Cambridge, MA: Harvard Vocarium Records, 1941.[4]


  • The Apparition, (first produced in Cambridge, MA, 1951).
  • The Visionary Farms, (first produced in Cambridge, MA, 1952).
  • Triptych (first produced in Chicago, IL, 1955).
  • Devils and Angels (first produced by Poets' Theatre, 1956). Cambridge, MA: Poets' Theatre, 1956.
  • The Mad Musician, and Devils and Angels (first produced in Cambridge, MA, 1962).
  • Collected Verse Plays (contains The Apparition, The Visionary Farms, Triptych, The Mad Musician, and Devils and Angels). Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press, 1962.
  • (Adapter) Lope de Vega, The Bride from Mantua (first produced in Hanover, New Hampshire, 1964).
  • Chocorua (limited edition). New York: Nadja, 1981.

Except where noted, information courtesy the Poetry Foundation.[3]

See alsoEdit

Preceded by
Eleanor Vinton
New Hampshire Poet Laureate
Succeeded by
Donald Hall



  1. Richard Eberhart, Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica Inc. Web, Mar. 29, 2013.
  2. Allen Ginsberg, Howl: Original Draft Facsimile, Transcript & Variant Editions, Fully Annotated by Author, with Contemporaneous Correspondence, Account of First Public Reading, Legal Skirmishes, Precursor Texts & Bibliography, edited by Barry Miles (HarperPerennial, 1995), 155.
  3. 3.0 3.1 [ Richard Eberhart 1904–2005], Poetry Foundation, Web, June 24, 2012.
  4. Search results = au:Theodore Spencer, WorldCat, OCLC Online Computer Library Center Inc. Web, Mar. 2, 2015.

External linksEdit


Audio / video
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