cover image New and Collected Poems

New and Collected Poems

Richard Wilbur. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt P, $27.95 (393pp) ISBN 978-0-15-165206-8

Wilbur is a poet for whom intellect serves as an antenna, filtering signals from an inscrutable world to create lyrical structures informed by wit and irony. There is something of Robert Frost in his contradictory attitude toward nature, source of solace but also of death. Reprinting six of his principal verse collections, this omnibus displays Wilbur's many facets as nature poet, mordant commentator on social mores, philosophizer and as a translator adept at capturing the varied moods of poets as different as Voznezensky, Borges and Jean de la Fontaine. Included also are 27 new poems, plus the cantata ""On Freedom's Ground,'' which celebrates America as a nation of immigrants. The new material is mostly minor, though it confirms him as a versatile craftsman. In his best verses, form is wedded to feeling, ``beauty joined to energy,'' yielding poems that will endure. Wilbur was named U.S. poet laureate last year. (April)