Anthony Hecht Dies at 81

Posted on

Oct 21 2004

October 21, 2004 -- The esteemed poet Anthony Hecht, winner of the Pulitzer Prize, among other honors, died last night after a brief illness.

The poetry of Anthony Hecht has been praised by Harold Bloom and Ted Hughes, among others, for its sure control of difficult material and its unique music and visual precision. His most recent work, collected in The Darkness and the Light, returned to our narrative beginnings with a series of poems in the voices of Biblical characters. These figures provide a timeless backdrop for his powerful contemporary reflections, in the tradition of W. H. Auden and Robert Frost. Richard Howard writes: "For all the glee of the poesis, Hecht's lines are severe even in their civility, their music wild even in its mastery."

Anthony Hecht was born in New York City on January 16, 1923. His books of poetry include Collected Later Poems (Alfred A. Knopf, 2003), The Darkness and the Light (2001); Flight Among the Tombs (1996); The Transparent Man (1990); Collected Earlier Poems (1990); The Venetian Vespers (1979); Millions of Strange Shadows (1977); The Hard Hours (1967), which won the Pulitzer Prize; and A Summoning of Stones (1954). He is also author of On the Laws of Poetic Art: The Andrew Mellon Lectures, 1992 (1995) and Obbligati: Essays in Criticism (1986); co-translator of Aeschylus's Seven Against Thebes (with Helen Bacon, 1975); and editor of The Essential Herbert (1987) and Jiggery-Pokery: A Compendium of Double Dactyls (with John Hollander, 1967).

He has received the Bollingen Prize, the Ruth Lilly Prize, the Loines Award, the Librex-Guggenheim Eugenio Montale Award, and the Harriet Monroe Poetry Award, and fellowships from The Academy of American Poets, the American Academy in Rome, the Ford Foundation, the Guggenheim Foundation, and the Rockefeller Foundation. Mr. Hecht lived in Washington, D.C.

Read Hecht's poetry and listen to an audio recording of Hecht reading "Chorus from Oedipus at Colonos."

For information about his books and more poems, visit Knopf Poetry.

The Academy of American Poets is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization founded in 1934 to foster appreciation for contemporary poetry and to support American poets at all stages of their careers. For more information on the Academy and its programs, visit www.poets.org.