Anthony Hecht—A Poet's Life
by David Yezzi
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Pub Date 07 Nov 2023 | Archive Date 21 Nov 2023
Anthony Hecht (1923-2004) was one of America’s greatest poets, winner of the Pulitzer Prize, and widely recognized as a master of formal verse that drew on wide-ranging cultural and literary sources, as well as Hecht’s experiences as a soldier during World War II, during which he fought in Germany and Czechoslovakia and helped to liberate the Flossenburg concentration camp.
In Late Romance, David Yezzi—himself a renowned poet and critic—reveals the depths that informed the meticulous surfaces of Hecht’s poems. Born to a wealthy German-Jewish family in Manhattan, Hecht saw his father lose nearly everything during the stock market crash of 1929. He grew into an accomplished athlete, actor, writer, and eventually a soldier in the crucible that consumed the world. Returning from the war, Hecht struggled to reconcile what he had witnessed and experienced, suffering from mental illness that required hospitalization. But he found the means to channel his emotions into poetry of lasting meaning, control, and depth; along with Robert Lowell, James Merrill, Theodore Roethke, and Elizabeth Bishop, Hecht remains a vital presence in letters.
Published to celebrate the 100th year of his birth, and to coincide with an edition of his collected poems (to be published by Knopf), Late Romance is the definitive, dramatic biography of a uniquely-gifted writer.