Albion College's Reviews > Mayflies

Mayflies by Richard Wilbur
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's review
Mar 23, 2012

it was amazing
bookshelves: currently-reading

At age 91, Richard Wilbur is still writing and publishing wonderful poems, so this is by no means his latest work, but it is representative of the poetic gifts that have won him numerous awards. The title poem moves from evocative description of nature—here, a swarm of mayflies—to personal reflection to a final joyful, unifying recognition of the beauty of the Creator’s “fiats.” “A Barred Owl” captures human attempts to domesticate our fears of a darker, wilder side of nature.

“For C.” is the most beautiful modern love poem I know. The “C.” of the title is Wilbur’s wife, Charlotte, and the final stanza affirms married love and fidelity as an expression of our fullest, deepest humanity. [After reading “For C.,” seek out Wilbur’s most recent volume, Anterooms, which opens with a heartbreaking poem (“The House”) expressing
his grief after Charlotte’s death.]

Wilbur is also an acclaimed translator. He includes translations from poets such as Baudelaire and Dante, and you can get a taste of Wilbur’s lively translations of Molière’s plays with “The Prologue to Molière’s Amphitryon.”

-Marion Meilaender, Library

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