Robert Hillyer

Robert Hillyer (1895-1961). Courtesy Wikipedia.

Robert Silliman Hillyer (June 3, 1895 - December 24, 1961) was a Pulitzer Prize-winning American poet.


Hillyer was born in East Orange, New Jersey. He attended Kent School in Kent, Connecticut and graduated from Harvard University in 1917. After graduating he went to France and volunteered with the S.S.U. 60 of the Norton-Harjes Ambulance Corps serving the Allied Forces in World War I. He had long links to Harvard University, including holding a position as a Professor of English. He also taught at Kenyon College and the University of Delaware.

While teaching at Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut, in the late 1920's, Hillyer was made a member of the Epsilon chapter of the prestigious St. Anthony Hall Delta Psi literary fraternity in 1927.

Hillyer is remembered as a kind of villain by Ezra Pound scholars, who associate him with his 1949 attacks on The Pisan Cantos in the Saturday Review of Literature which sparked the Bollingen Controversy.

Hillyer was identified with the Harvard Aesthetes grouping.


Hillyer is a formalist, meaning that his poetry is in meter and often rhyme. The Houghton Mifflin Chronology of U.S. Literature says he is "best known for his use of the heroic couplet."[1] He is known for his sonnets and for such poems as "Theme and Variations" (on his war experiences) and the light "Letter to Robert Frost".


Hillyer won the Pulitzer Prize in Poetry for Collected Verse in 1934.

American composer Ned Rorem's most famous art song is a setting of Hillyer's "Early in the Morning".


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  • Eight Harvard Poets (contributor). New York: Laurence J. Gomme, 1917.
  • Sonnets, and other lyrics. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press / London: Humphrey Milford / Oxford University Press, 1917.
  • The Five Books of Youth. New York: Brentano's, 1920.
  • Alchemy: A symphonic poem. New York: Brentano's, 1920.
  • The Hills Give Promise: A volume of lyrics / Carmus: A symphonic poem. Boston, MA: B.J. Brimmer, 1923.
  • The Halt in the Garden. London: Elkin Mathews, 1925.
  • The Seventh Hill. New York: Viking Press, 1928.
  • The Gates of the Compass: A poem in four parts, together with twenty-two shorter pieces. New York: Viking Press, 1930.
  • Collected Verse. New York: Knopf, 1933.
  • A Letter to Robert Frost, and others. New York & London: Knopf, 1937.
  • In Time of Mistrust. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1940.
  • Pattern of a Day. New York: Knopf, 1940.
  • Poems for Music, 1917-1947. New York: Knopf, 1947.
  • Poems for Music, 1947-1948. New York: Knopf, 1948.
  • The Death of Captain Nemo: A narrative poem. New York: Knopf, 1949.
  • The Suburb by the Sea: New poems. New York: Knopf, 1952.
  • The Relic, and other poems. New York: Knopf, 1957.
  • Collected Poems. New York: Knopf, 1961.


  • The Engagement Ring: A comedy. Hartford, CT: Haylofters, 1927.
  • The Masquerade: A comedy. Hartford, CT: Pyne Printery, 1928.



  • Some Roots of English Poetry. Norton, MA: Wheaton Press, 1933.
  • Robert Bridges and the Testament of Beauty. [1942?]
  • The Heritage of the English-speaking peoples, and their responsibility. Gambler, OH: Kenyon College, 1948.
  • First Principles of Verse. Boston: The Writer, 1950.
  • The Pursuit of Poetry. Huntington, WV: Marshall College, 1957.
  • Anniversary Lectures, 1959. Washington, DC: Reference Dept., Library of Congress, 1959.
  • In Pursuit of Poetry. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1960.


  • A Book of Danish Verse: Translated in the original meters (translated with Samuel Forster Damon). American-Scandinavian Association, 1922.
  • The Coming Forth by Day: An anthology of poems from the Egyptian Book of the Dead, together with an essay on the Egyptian religion. Boston: B.J. Brimmer, 1923.


  • Eight More Harvard Poets (edited with Samuel Foster Damon). New York: Brentano's, 1923.
  • Prose Masterpieces of English and American Literature (edited with Kenneth Ballard Murdock & Odell Shepard). New York: Harcourt Brace, 1931.

Except where noted, bibliographical information courtesy WorldCat.[2]

Early in the morning - Ned Rorem (Robert Hillyer)02:09

Early in the morning - Ned Rorem (Robert Hillyer)

Audio / video Edit

  • Robert Hillyer: Reading his own poems (78). Cambridge, MA: Harvard Film Service, 1940.[2]

See alsoEdit

References Edit

  1. "Robert Hillyer," Houghton Mifflin Chronology of US Literature,, Web, June 30, 2011.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Search results = au:Robert Hillyer, WorldCat, OCLC Online Computer Library Center Inc. Web, Sep. 23, 2014.

External links Edit

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