Archduke of Darkness who supplies
The deadline governing joy and woe
Here I put off my
Et nunc pulvere dormio.
|Anthony Evan Hecht is buried in the
Bard College Cemetery, Annandale-on-Hudson, New York, USA.
Anthony Hecht's Grave
|Hecht was born in New York - the son of a Jewish-German
banker. He studied English at Bard College where he
encoutered the work of Auden,
Stevens and Dylan Thomas.
When he announced to his parents that he wanted to be a poet
they were not impressed and invited to dinner Theodor Geisel
(aka Dr Seuss) to try and put him off; fortunately their
ploy didn't work.
Hecht saw action in Germany and
Czechoslovakia during WW2 as an infantry soldier and he also
helped to liberate the Flossenbürg Concentration Camp which
was attached to Buchenwald - an experience which would stay
with him for the rest of his life. In fact, it led to him
suffering post-traumatic stress disorder later in life
and caused a mental break down which saw him hospitalised
for three months in 1959. Nazi atrocities were a common
subject matter in Hecht's poetry as he tried to expunge his
After the war he took advantage of the G.I.
bill which enabled him to study under John Crowe Ransom at
Kenyon College. Here he encountered other important poets
including: Randall Jarrell,
Elizabeth Bishop and Allen Tate.
His first collection appeared in 1954 and was entitled
A Summoning of Stones. His other collections
included The Hard Hours (1967), The Transparent
Man (1990) and Flight Among the Tombs
He also wrote a critical study of his mentor
W.H. Auden entitled The Hidden
Law (1993). (He actually met and became friends with
Auden on the Italian island of Ischia in 1951.)
was a master of traditional forms - something he may have
picked up from Auden. He is also credited with
inventing the double dactyl - a complicated light verse form
consisting of two quatrains where the first three lines are
two dactyls e.g. 'Higgledy-piggledy' and the fourth line is
a dactyl and a macron. The last word of each quatrain must
also rhyme. He also translated classical works such as
Aeschylus and the odes of Horace
He won several
prizes including: the Bollingen Prize, the Pulitzer Prize
for Poetry 1968 for The Hard Hours, the 1988 Ruth
Lilly Poetry Prize and the 1999/2000 Frost Medal.
taught at a number of prestigious insitituions
incuding Smith, Bard, Harvard and Yale. At Smith college he
encountered Sylvia Plath.
Today he is mainly remembered for transforming his wartime
experience into decorus and formal poetry often with a
disconcertingly calm tone. His viewpoint was also
significantly European for an American poet.
married twice - the second time to cookery writer Helen D'
Alessandro who is buried with him at Bard College.
There is not much else to tell.
One tries one's best to continue as before,
But I would have you know that all is not
With a man dead set to ignore
repetitions of his own murmurous blood.