My only complaint about Harrison Smith’s fine obituary for Richard Wilbur was that it didn’t appear on the front page [“U.S. poet laureate won the Pulitzer Prize twice,” obituaries, Oct. 16].
Through decade after decade, Wilbur’s poetry demonstrated the perfect marriage of artistic vision and technical mastery. Those such as Randall Jarrell who grumbled that Wilbur “never goes too far, but he never goes far enough,” failed to credit the power of understatement. Just read his quiet “Boy at the Window,” or his “Sonnet,” about a scarecrow dancing in a storm while a farmer rests by the fire, which captures in a single line of flawless iambic pentameter all the fearful power of the universe: “Outside, the night dives down like one great crow.”
We’re going to miss Wilbur, but we can celebrate the way his voice still speaks to us in page after page of beautiful language. His work exemplified William Carlos Williams’s observation that “it is difficult to get the news from poems, but men die miserably every day for lack of what is found there.”
W. Edward Blain, Woodberry Forest, Va.