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Richard Wilbur

Birthday wishes for Mr. Wilbur

Distracted by the making of paragraphs and domestic duties, I overlooked that March 1 was the ninety-first birthday of Richard Wilbur, one of our most distinguished poets.

I heard him read once when I was undergraduate, and a more urbane, witty, and polished master of verse you cannot find. His translations of Moliere are a pleasure both to read and to hear. And his version of Villon's Ou sont les neiges d'antan? is perfect in English in its concision and melancholy realism: "But where shall last year's snow be found?"

There are days when I discover running in my head the witty patter song for the syphilitic Dr. Pangloss that he composed for...