for Anthony Hecht
is the man whose poems dare
Describe man’s inhumanities,
And count our deadly sins, and bare
Such truths as cause the blood to freeze,
Yet in whose darkest verse one sees
How style and agile intellect
Can both instruct and greatly please?
I speak, of course, of Tony Hecht.
is the man who has a flair
For double-dactyl drolleries
And other forms, as light as air,
That call for wit and expertise,
Whose “Dover Bitch,” moreover, frees
His comic gifts to play unchecked?
Who is his own antipodes?
The many-sided Tony Hecht.
has translated Baudelaire,
Avoiding all translationese?
Who rendered Brodsky and Voltaire
And Horace’s urbanities,
And would be named by all of these
As one of their august elect?
Can there be any question? He’s
That true Parnassian, Tony Hecht.
now, Prince, you must be aware
Of what bard most deserves respect.
There is but one beyond compare,
The incomparable Tony Hecht.
WILBUR is a former Poet Laureate of the United States. He received the
Pulitzer Prize for Poetry in 1957 for his collection Things of This
World (Harcourt), and in 1988 he received a second Pulitzer Prize
for his New and Collected Poems (Harcourt). He has also received
two Bollingen Poetry Prizes: one for his translation of Molière’s
Tartuffe, and a second for his own poetry.]