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Peters, Erskine. "Cornelius Eady's You Don't Miss Your Water: Its Womanist/Feminist Perspective." Journal of African American Men 2.1 (summer 1996): 15-31.

William Waddell

EBERHART, RICHARD (1904- ) Richard

Eberhart's poetry includes meditations on landscape and, widely conceived, on spiritual aspects of the human experience. A contemporary of T. S. eliot and other poets of modernism who often shunned formal poetry, Eberhart often wrote in form. According to Bernard Engel, Eberhart is "not a follower of William Carlos WILLIAMS, Ezra pound, Robert frost or any of the other influential figures in the generation immediately preceding his own. Wordsworth, Blake and perhaps Gerard Manley Hopkins are, Eberhart feels, his real poetic ancestors" and he can be considered both a transcendentalist and a visionary poet (24).

Eberhart was born in Austin, Minnesota. He worked a variety of jobs, including deckhand on a steamship, tutor to the son of King Prajadhipok of Siam (1931-32), gunnery instructor in the U.S. naval reserve (1942-46) and various college teaching positions. He lived a great deal of his life in New England, especially New Hampshire, where he was a professor of English at Dartmouth College. Among his many awards are a 1966 Pulitzer Prize for Collected Poems, 1930-1976 and the position of consultant in poetry at the Library of Congress from 1959 to 1961, the position which is now known as poet laureate of the United States. His first book, A Bravery of Earth, was published in 1930, and his most recent volume of poetry is New and Selected Poems, 1930-1990.

Eberhart's poems meditate on the relationship of the cosmos to the lived experience of the individual. In "The Groundhog" (1936), the speaker meditates upon a dead groundhog's decomposition. The death disturbs him deeply for his "senses shook, / And mind outshot our naked frailty," but two years hence the field where the groundhog died is "Massive and burning, full of life." Thus does the poem "bring the theme of death to intense life—a life that involves us who are human beings" (Brooks 3). Another of Eberhart's most famous poems is "The Fury of Aerial Bombardment" (1947), in which he laments the deaths of the young men he taught as a gunnery instructor. As in other poems, he asks metaphysical questions, such as "Was man made stupid to see his own stupidity? / Is God by definition indifferent, beyond us all?"

The critical response to Eberhart largely echoes Gal-way kinnell, who speaks of Eberhart's "powerful, loving and exuberant wakefulness to the world and its things and creatures," and Daniel Hoffman, who points out Eberhart's "depth of perception" and "spiritual sense of revelation" (qtd. in Lund 13).

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