Richard Wilbur, 1921–, American poet and translator, b. New York City, grad. Amherst (B.A., 1942) and Harvard (M.A., 1947). A virtuoso craftsman who writes gracefully in traditional verse forms, Wilbur is always original and generally affirmative in his view of the world, and can be profound and witty, playful and intellectual. His volumes of verse include The Beautiful Changes (1947), Ceremony (1950), Things of This World (1956; Pulitzer Prize, National Book Award), Advice to a Prophet (1961), The Mind Reader (1976), New and Collected Poems (1988; Pulitzer Prize), Mayflies (2000), and Anterooms (2010). Opposites (1973) is a collection of his poems for children, and Responses (1976) and The Catbird's Song (1997) are collections of his prose pieces. Wilbur was America's poet laureate from 1987 to 1988. He has translated Molière's The Misanthrope (1955), Tartuffe (1963), and The School for Wives (1972) and other classic French drama. With Lillian Hellman, he wrote the libretto for Leonard Bernstein's musical version of Voltaire's Candide (1957). Wilbur is also an editor and teacher.
See his Collected Poems 1943–2004 (2004); studies by D. L. Hill (1967) and W. Salinger, ed. (1983); bibliography by F. Bixler (1991).