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January 14, 1992Pierpont Morgan LibraryFrom the Academy Audio Archive

About this poet

John Hollander was born in New York City on October 28, 1929. He attended Columbia University and Indiana University, and was a Junior Fellow of the Society of Fellows of Harvard University.

He was the author of more than a dozen volumes of poetry, including Picture Window (Alfred A. Knopf, 2003), Figurehead: And Other Poems (Alfred A. Knopf, 1999), Tesserae (Alfred A. Knopf, 1993), Selected Poetry (Afred A. Knopf, 1993), Harp Lake (Alfred A. Knopf, 1988), Powers of Thirteen (Atheneum, 1983), Spectral Emanations (Atheneum, 1978), Types of Shape (Yale University Press, 1969), and A Crackling of Thorns (Literary Licensing, 1958), which was chosen by W. H. Auden for the Yale Series of Younger Poets.

His seven books of criticism include Rhyme's Reason: A Guide to English Verse (Yale University Press, 1981) and The Figure of Echo: A Mode of Allusion in Milton and After (University of California Press, 1981). He also edited numerous books, among them Committed to Memory: 100 Best Poems to Memorize (Turtle Point Press, 1996), which was published in partnership with the Academy of American Poets, and The Library of America's two-volume anthology Nineteenth Century American Poetry (1993). He was coeditor of The Oxford Anthology of English Literature (Oxford University Press, 1973).

In addition, Hollander wrote books for children and collaborated on operatic and lyric works with such composers as Milton Babbitt, George Perle, and Hugo Weisgall.

About his early work, the critic Harold Bloom said, "Hollander's expressive range and direct emotional power attain triumphant expression. I am moved to claim for these poems a vital place in that new Expressionistic mode that begins to sound like the poetry of the Seventies that matters, and that will survive us."

Hollander's many honors included the Bollingen Prize, the Levinson Prize, and the MLA Shaughnessy Medal, as well as fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the MacArthur Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Arts.

A former Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets and former poet laureate of Connecticut, he taught at Connecticut College, Hunter College, the City University of New York Graduate Center, and Yale University, where he was the Sterling Professor emeritus of English. He died on August 17, 2013.

Selected Bibliography

Poetry
Picture Window (Alfred A. Knopf, 2003)
Figurehead: And Other Poems (Alfred A. Knopf, 1999)
Tesserae (Alfred A. Knopf, 1993)
Selected Poetry (Afred A. Knopf, 1993)
Harp Lake (Alfred A. Knopf, 1988)
Powers of Thirteen (Atheneum, 1983)
Spectral Emanations (Atheneum, 1978)
Types of Shape (Yale University Press, 1969)
A Crackling of Thorns (Literary Licensing, 1958)

Prose
Rhyme's Reason: A Guide to English Verse (Yale University Press, 1981)
The Figure of Echo: A Mode of Allusion in Milton and After (University of California Press, 1981)
Vision and Resonance: Two Senses of Poetic Form (Oxford University Press, 1975)
Modern Poetry: Essays in Criticism (Oxford University Press, 1968)
The Untuning of the Sky: Ideas of Music in English Poetry, 1500–1700 (Princeton University Press, 1961)

An Old-Fashioned Song

No more walks in the wood:
The trees have all been cut
Down, and where once they stood
Not even a wagon rut
Appears along the path
Low brush is taking over.

No more walks in the wood;
This is the aftermath
Of afternoons in the clover
Fields where we once made love
Then wandered home together
Where the trees arched above,
Where we made our own weather
When branches were the sky.
Now they are gone for good,
And you, for ill, and I
Am only a passer-by.

We and the trees and the way
Back from the fields of play
Lasted as long as we could.
No more walks in the wood.

From Tesserae and Other Poems, by John Hollander, published by Alfred A. Knopf. Inc. Copyright © 1993 by John Hollander. Used with permission.

From Tesserae and Other Poems, by John Hollander, published by Alfred A. Knopf. Inc. Copyright © 1993 by John Hollander. Used with permission.

John Hollander

John Hollander

John Hollander, born in New York City on October 28, 1929, was a former Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets and former poet laureate of Connecticut. 

by this poet

poem
Now at the turn of the year this coil of clay
Bites its own tail: a New Year starts to choke
On the old one's ragged end.  I bite my tongue
As the end of me—of my rope of stuff and nonsense
(The nonsense held, it was the stuff that broke),
Of bones and light, of levity and crime,
Of reddish clay and hope—still
poem

To lie on these beaches for another summer
Would not become them at all,
And yet the water and her sands will suffer
When, in the fall,
These golden children will be taken from her.

It is not the gold they bring: enough of that
Has shone in the water for ages
And in the