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Best Famous Richard Wilbur Poems


Here is a collection of the all-time best famous Richard Wilbur poems. This is a select list of the best famous Richard Wilbur poetry. Reading, writing, and enjoying famous Richard Wilbur poetry (as well as classical and contemporary poems) is a great past time. These top poems are the best examples of Richard Wilbur poems.

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by Richard Wilbur |

The Writer

 In her room at the prow of the house
Where light breaks, and the windows are tossed with linden,
My daughter is writing a story.

I pause in the stairwell, hearing
>From her shut door a commotion of typewriter-keys
Like a chain hauled over a gunwale.

Young as she is, the stuff
Of her life is a great cargo, and some of it heavy:
I wish her a lucky passage.

But now it is she who pauses,
As if to reject my thought and its easy figure.
A stillness greatens, in which

The whole house seems to be thinking,
And then she is at it again with a bunched clamor
Of strokes, and again is silent.

I remember the dazed starling
Which was trapped in that very room, two years ago;
How we stole in, lifted a sash

And retreated, not to affright it;
And how for a helpless hour, through the crack of the door,
We watched the sleek, wild, dark

And iridescent creature
Batter against the brilliance, drop like a glove
To the hard floor, or the desk-top,

And wait then, humped and bloody,
For the wits to try it again; and how our spirits
Rose when, suddenly sure,

It lifted off from a chair-back,
Beating a smooth course for the right window
And clearing the sill of the world.

It is always a matter, my darling,
Of life or death, as I had forgotten. I wish
What I wished you before, but harder.


by Richard Wilbur |

The Beautiful Changes

 One wading a Fall meadow finds on all sides 
The Queen Anne's Lace lying like lilies
On water; it glides
So from the walker, it turns 
Dry grass to a lake, as the slightest shade of
 you
Valleys my mind in fabulous blue Lucernes.

The beautiful changes as a forest is changed 
By a chameleon's tuning his skin to it;
As a mantis, arranged
On a green leaf, grows
Into it, makes the leaf leafier, and proves
Any greenness is deeper than anyone knows.

Your hands hold roses always in a way that 
 says
They are not only yours; the beautiful changes
In such kind ways,
Wishing ever to sunder
Things and things' selves for a second finding,
 to lose
For a moment all that it touches back to 
 wonder.


by Richard Wilbur |

Wedding Toast

 St. John tells how, at Cana's wedding feast,
The water-pots poured wine in such amount
That by his sober count
There were a hundred gallons at the least.

It made no earthly sense, unless to show
How whatsoever love elects to bless
Brims to a sweet excess
That can without depletion overflow.

Which is to say that what love sees is true;
That this world's fullness is not made but found.
Life hungers to abound
And pour its plenty out for such as you.

Now, if your loves will lend an ear to mine,
I toast you both, good son and dear new daughter.
May you not lack for water,
And may that water smack of Cana's wine.


by Richard Wilbur |

A Plain Song For Comadre

 Though the unseen may vanish, though insight
 fails
And doubter and downcast saint
Join in the same complaint,
What holy things were ever frightened off
By a fly's buzz, or itches, or a cough?
Harder than nails

They are, more warmly constant than the sun,
At whose continual sign
The dimly prompted vine
Upbraids itself to a green excellence.
What evening, when the slow and forced 
 expense
Of sweat is done,

Does not the dark come flooding the straight
 furrow
Or filling the well-made bowl?
What night will not the whole 
Sky with its clear studs and steady spheres
Turn on a sound chimney? It is seventeen 
 years
Come tomorrow

That Bruna Sandoval has kept the church
Of San Ysidro, sweeping
And scrubbing the aisles, keeping
The candlesticks and the plaster faces bright,
And seen no visions but the thing done right
>From the clay porch

To the white altar. For love and in all weathers
This is what she has done.
Sometimes the early sun
Shines as she flings the scrubwater out, with a 
 crash
Of grimy rainbows, and the stained studs flash 
Like angel-feathers.


by Richard Wilbur |

For K.R. on her Sixtieth Birthday

 Blow out the candles of your cake.
They will not leave you in the dark,
Who round with grace this dusky arc
Of the grand tour which souls must take.

You who have sounded William Blake,
And the still pool, to Plato's mark,
Blow out the candles of your cake.
They will not leave you in the dark.

Yet, for your friends' benighted sake,
Detain your upward-flying spark;
Get us that wish, though like the lark
You whet your wings till dawn shall break:
Blow out the candles of your cake.


by Richard Wilbur |

Love Calls Us To The Things Of This World

 The eyes open to a cry of pulleys,
And spirited from sleep, the astounded
 soul
Hangs for a moment bodiless and
 simple
As false dawn.
 Outside the open window
The morning air is all awash with
 angels.

 Some are in bed-sheets, some are
 in blouses,
Some are in smocks: but truly there
 they are.
Now they are rising together in calm
 swells
Of halcyon feeling, filling whatever they
 wear
With the deep joy of their impersonal
 breathing;

 Now they are flying in place,
 conveying
The terrible speed of their
 omnipresence, moving
And staying like white water; and now
 of a sudden
They swoon down in so rapt a quiet
That nobody seems to be there.
 The soul shrinks

 From all that it is about to remember,
From the punctual rape of every
 blessed day,
And cries,
 "Oh, let there be nothing on
 earth but laundry,
Nothing but rosy hands in the rising
 steam
And clear dances done in the sight of
 heaven."

 Yet, as the sun acknowledges
With a warm look the world's hunks
 and colors,
The soul descends once more in bitter
 love
To accept the waking body, saying now
In a changed voice as the man yawns
 and rises,

 "Bring them down from their ruddy
 gallows;
Let there be clean linen for the backs
 of thieves;
Let lovers go fresh and sweet to be
 undone,
And the heaviest nuns walk in a pure
 floating
Of dark habits,
 keeping their difficult
 balance."


by Richard Wilbur |

Boy at the Window

 Seeing the snowman standing all alone
In dusk and cold is more than he can bear.
The small boy weeps to hear the wind prepare
A night of gnashings and enormous moan.
His tearful sight can hardly reach to where
The pale-faced figure with bitumen eyes
Returns him such a God-forsaken stare
As outcast Adam gave to paradise.

The man of snow is, nonetheless, content,
Having no wish to go inside and die.
Still, he is moved to see the youngster cry.
Though frozen water is his element,
He melts enough to drop from one soft eye
A trickle of the purest rain, a tear
For the child at the bright pane surrounded by
Such warmth, such light, such love, and so much fear.


by Richard Wilbur |

A Hole In The Floor

 for Rene Magritte

The carpenter's made a hole
In the parlor floor, and I'm standing
Staring down into it now
At four o'clock in the evening,
As Schliemann stood when his shovel
Knocked on the crowns of Troy.

A clean-cut sawdust sparkles
On the grey, shaggy laths,
And here is a cluster of shavings
>From the time when the floor was laid.
They are silvery-gold, the color
Of Hesperian apple-parings.

Kneeling, I look in under
Where the joists go into hiding.
A pure street, faintly littered
With bits and strokes of light,
Enters the long darkness
Where its parallels will meet.

The radiator-pipe
Rises in middle distance
Like a shuttered kiosk, standing
Where the only news is night.
Here's it's not painted green,
As it is in the visible world.

For God's sake, what am I after?
Some treasure, or tiny garden?
Or that untrodden place,
The house's very soul,
Where time has stored our footbeats
And the long skein of our voices?

Not these, but the buried strangeness
Which nourishes the known:
That spring from which the floor-lamp
Drinks now a wilder bloom,
Inflaming the damask love-seat
And the whole dangerous room.


by Richard Wilbur |

A Fire-Truck

 Right down the shocked street with a
 siren-blast
That sends all else skittering to the
 curb,
Redness, brass, ladders and hats hurl
 past,
 Blurring to sheer verb,

Shift at the corner into uproarious gear
And make it around the turn in a squall
 of traction,
The headlong bell maintaining sure and
 clear,
 Thought is degraded action!

Beautiful, heavy, unweary, loud,
 obvious thing!
I stand here purged of nuance, my
 mind a blank.
All I was brooding upon has taken
 wing,
 And I have you to thank.

As you howl beyond hearing I carry you
 into my mind,
Ladders and brass and all, there to
 admire
Your phoenix-red simplicity, enshrined
 In that not extinguished fire.


by Richard Wilbur |

Praise In Summer

 Obscurely yet most surely called to praise,
As sometimes summer calls us all, I said
The hills are heavens full of branching ways
Where star-nosed moles fly overhead the dead;
I said the trees are mines in air, I said
See how the sparrow burrows in the sky!
And then I wondered why this mad instead
Perverts our praise to uncreation, why
Such savour's in this wrenching things awry.
Does sense so stale that it must needs derange
The world to know it? To a praiseful eye
Should it not be enough of fresh and strange
That trees grow green, and moles can course
 in clay,
And sparrows sweep the ceiling of our day?