June 12, 2005


Poet Richard Eberhart Dies at Age 101 (AP, 6/12/05)

HANOVER, N.H. - Richard Eberhart, a Pulitzer Prize-winning poet admired for mentoring generations of aspiring writers, has died at the age of 101. Eberhart died at his home Thursday after a short illness.

He wrote more than a dozen books of poetry and verse during a career that spanned more than 60 years. He received nearly every major book award that a poet can win, including the Pulitzer, which he received in 1966 for "Selected Poems, 1930-1965."

"Poetry is a natural energy resource of our country," he said in his 1977 acceptance speech for a National Book Award. "It has no energy crisis, possessing a potential that will last as long as the country. Its power is equal to that of any country in the world."

Jay Parini, a former colleague who teaches English at Middlebury College, called Eberhart "one of the finest American poets."

"He left behind a dozen poems that I think will be part of the permanent treasury of American poetry," Parini said.

The Groundhog (Richard Eberhart)

In June, amid the golden fields,
I saw a groundhog lying dead.
Dead lay he; my senses shook,
And mind outshot our naked frailty.
There lowly in the vigorous summer
His form began its senseless change,
And made my senses waver dim
Seeing nature ferocious in him.
Inspecting close his maggots' might
And seething cauldron of his being,
Half with loathing, half with a strange love,
I poked him with an angry stick.
The fever rose, became a flame
And Vigor circumscribed the skies,
Immense energy in the sun,
And through my frame a sunless trembling.
My stick had done nor good nor harm.
Then stood I silent in the day
Watching the object, as before;
And kept my reverence for knowledge
Trying for control, to be still,
To quell the passion of the blood;
Until I had bent down on my knees
Praying for joy in the sight of decay.
And so I left: and I returned
In Autumn strict of eye, to see
The sap gone out of the groundhog,
But the bony sodden hulk remained.
But the year had lost its meaning,
And in intellectual chains
I lost both love and loathing,
Mured up in the wall of wisdom.
Another summer took the fields again
Massive and burning, full of life,
But when I chanced upon the spot
There was only a little hair left,
And bones bleaching in the sunlight
Beautiful as architecture;
I watched them like a geometer,
And cut a walking stick from a birch.
It has been three years, now.
There is no sign of the groundhog.
I stood there in the whirling summer,
My hand capped a withered heart,
And thought of China and Greece,
Of Alexander in his tent;
Of Montaigne in his tower,
Of Saint Theresa in her wild lament.

-Richard Eberhart (Academy of American Poets)
-INTERVIEW: An Interview with Richard Eberhart at Dartmouth College (Frank Anthony, Connecticut Review)
-ARTICLE: Dartmouth celebrates a great poet: Eberhart turns 100, College renames room in his honor (James Donnelly, April 5, 2004, Vox of Dartmouth)

Posted by Orrin Judd at June 12, 2005 3:11 PM

Is there anybody involved in the writing business who hasn't won some sort of "prize"?

Posted by: Bartelson at June 12, 2005 7:54 PM

Has Judd won anything yet?

Posted by: Foos at June 12, 2005 8:00 PM

I haven't won anything either. Then again, they won't even read my work when thet get a whiff of my political leanings.

Posted by: obc at June 12, 2005 8:26 PM

That poem didn't rhyme.

Posted by: RC at June 13, 2005 5:04 AM

Mmmmm--dead groundhogs. In this day of laser range-finders and hand-held anemometers it's almost too easy. I've taken to using nothing but a 14" barrel single-shot pistol, and it's still easy

Posted by: Lou Gots at June 14, 2005 9:28 AM