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1. Collected Poems 1943-2004
2. Anterooms: New Poems and Translations
3. New and Collected Poems (Harvest
4. The Pig in the Spigot
5. Opposites, More Opposites, and
6. Mayflies: New Poems and Translations
7. The School for Wives and The Learned
8. The Misanthrope and Tartuffe
9. Conversations with Richard Wilbur
10. Tartuffe: A Comedy in Five Acts
11. Responses: Prose Pieces 1953-1976
12. Phaedra, by Racine
13. Don Juan
14. The Ancient Tradition of Geometric
15. The Misanthrope and Tartuffe.
16. Richard Wilbur's Creation (Under
17. Catbird's Song
18. The Bungler
19. Le Cid and The Liar
20. Even As We Speak: Poems (Richard

1. Collected Poems 1943-2004
by Richard Wilbur
Paperback: 608 Pages (2006-04-03)
list price: US$18.00 -- used & new: US$4.65
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0156030799
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Product Description

With a distinguished career spanning more than sixty years, Richard Wilbur stands as one of America's preeminent men of letters. Collected Poems 1943-2004 is the comprehensive collection of Wilbur's astonishing, timeless work. It will serve as the most referenced trove of this beloved poet's best verses for many years to come.

In Trackless Woods
In trackless woods, it puzzled me to find
Four great rock maples seemingly aligned,
As if they had been set out in a row
Before some house a century ago,
To edge the property and lend some shade.
I looked to see if ancient wheels had made
Old ruts to which the trees ran parallel,
But there were none, so far as I could tell-
There'd been no roadway. Nor could I find the square
Depression of a cellar anywhere,
And so I tramped on further, to survey
Amazing patterns in a hornbeam spray
Or spirals in a pine cone, under trees
Not subject to our stiff geometries.
... Read more

Customer Reviews (8)

5-0 out of 5 stars Collected Poems by Richard Wilbur
It is a great book. I know and love Richard's poetry for adults, but was delighted to discover wonderful funny and witty poems for children.My kids loved it.Book is handsome and well put together.I entusiastically recommend it.

5-0 out of 5 stars a recent discovery
I am just getting to know the poetry of Richard Wilbur. This, "A Fable," is the poem that brought him to my attention:

Securely sunning in a forest glade, / A mild, well-meaning snake / Approved the adaptations he had made / For safety's sake. // He liked the skin he had -- / Its mottled camouflage, its look of mail, / And was content that he had thought to add / A rattling tail. // The tail was not for drumming up a fight; / No, nothing of the sort. / And he would only use his poisoned bite / As last resort. // A peasant now drew near, / Collecting wood; the snake, observing this, / Expressed concern by uttering a clear / But civil hiss. // The simple churl, his nerves at once unstrung, / Mistook the other's tone / And dashed his brains out with a deftly-flung / Pre-emptive stone // Moral: Security, alas, can give / A threatening impression; / Too much defense-initiative / Can prompt aggression.

On the weight of that poem alone, I ordered up this banquet. And I have not been disappointed. When it arrived, as when confronted with a literal smörgåsbord, I first took in the length and breadth of its offerings before committing myself to a plateful. Having digested that much, I can see that, had I had the foresight to pack it, I could survive just fine shipwrecked on a tropic isle -- ideally one tricked out with a pair of palm trees, a hammock and a source of potable water.

Whatever your equivalent of my island might be, trust me, poet lauriate Richard Wilbur will not disappoint.

5-0 out of 5 stars Plays Tennis with a Net
Fashionable nonsense attracts a lot of attention and dies on the vine often before its creator does.Lyrical metered poetry is centuries old and will continue to be where the best English poetry can be found as long as English survives as a language.Wilbur was it's best practitioner in the second half of the 20th century.A century or two from now he will be widely read and his contemporaries who grabbed headlines and accolades while belittling formalism will be footnotes, if even that.

5-0 out of 5 stars A superb cross-sampling of the best of Wilbur's work
Collected Poems 1943-2004 is an anthology of poetry by Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award winner Richard Wilbur, who has previously served as poet laureate of the United States. The compendium features works in a variety of formats, meters, and rhyme schemes, with themes ranging from the mundane to the extraordinary. A superb cross-sampling of the best of Wilbur's work, Collected Poems 1943-2004 is a treasury recommended for both libraries and private poetry shelves, and is certain not to disappoint true poetry lovers. "On Having Mis-Identified a Wild Flower": A thrush, because I'd been wrong, / Burst rightly into song / In a world not vague, not lonely, / Not governed by me only.

5-0 out of 5 stars A Library Star
This collection of the poems of Richard Wilbur is in several ways a gem.Not only does it contain the bulk of the works of Wilbur, who is one of the very few major poets of our era, it is also that rarity in today's publishing industry; that is, a beautiful book, well printed on good quality paper in a most readable typeface, and elegantly bound. Wilbur's work is notable for his affinity with the poetry of Europe and elsewhere.His translations from the French, in particular, are all of a high standard.Wilbur is not afraid to write verse which has rhyme, rhythm, and elegance. This is a book to be treasured. ... Read more

2. Anterooms: New Poems and Translations
by Richard Wilbur
Hardcover: 80 Pages (2010-11-12)
list price: US$20.00 -- used & new: US$12.89
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0547358113
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Product Description

Poetry lovers and critics will rejoice at the news of this collection from Richard Wilbur, the legendary poet and translator who was called “a hero to a new generation of critics” by the New York Times Book Review, and whose work continues to be masterful, accomplished, whimsical, fresh, and important.

A yellow-striped, green measuring worm opens Anterooms, a collection filled with poems that are classic Wilbur, that play with myth and form and examine the human condition through reflections on nature and love. Anterooms also features masterly translations from Mallarmé’s “The Tomb of Edgar Allan Poe,” a previously unpublished Verlaine poem, two poems by Joseph Brodsky, and thirty-seven of Symphosius’s clever Latin riddles.

Whether he is considering a snow shovel and domestic life or playfully considering that “Inside homeowner is the word meow,” Wilbur’s new collection is sure to delight everyone from longtime devotees to casual poetry readers. Exploring the interplay between the everyday and the mythic, the sobering and the lighthearted, Anterooms is nothing less than an event in poetic history and a remarkable addition to a master’s oeuvre.
... Read more

Customer Reviews (9)

A new book of poetry by Richard Wilbur is an occasion for celebration. A former poet laureate of the United States, he has won the Pulitzer Prize twice, and is as acclaimed for his elegant and subtle translations of classic French drama (eight Moliere plays, two Racine and two Corneille) and other people's poetry as for his own evocativepoems.

I have no problems with free, blank or concrete verse, but it is a pleasure to read Wilbur's tightly rhyming verse ("You who in crazy-lensed /Clear water fled your shape, /By choppy shallows flensed /And shaken like a cape, /...").

Recently I used a poem by Wilbur entitled "Mind" as the epigraph for a memory piece I was writing:

Mind in its purest play is like some bat
That beats about in caverns all alone,
Contriving by a kind of senseless wit
Not to conclude against a wall of stone.

It has no need to falter or explore;
Darkly it knows what obstacles are there,
And so it may weave and flitter, dip and soar
In perfect courses through the blackest air.

And has this simile a like perfection?
The mind is like a bat. Precisely. Save
That in the very happiest intellection
A graceful error may correct the cave.

Simile! That's what Wilbur does so well, blending rhyming prose with eloquent yet simple metaphor to illuminate experience!

I'm sure there's another poem of his that I included in a handtyped booklet of poems I gave my wife on her birthday one year. It was about a spider spinning a web. The comparison was between the spider's web, which though seemingly fragile was strong and connecting, and love. I can't find the poem so I can't swear it was by him but it's the type of poem he can write though, and often does.

Anterooms contains twenty-two poems long. None is longer than two pages in length. There are a number of translations -an unpublished poem of Verlaine and a poem by Mallarme' ("The Tomb of Edgar Poe"), one by Horace and thirty-seven short rhyming riddles from Symphosius (of whom I'd never heard before).

Here's one of his own poems, which combines observation of the things of Nature with a modest but true reflection on the human condition.

A Measuring Worm

This yellow-striped green
Caterpillar, climbing up
The steep window screen,

Constantly (for lack
Of a full set of legs) keeps
Humping up his back.

It's as if he sent
By a sort of semaphore
Dark omegas meant

To warn of Last Things.
Although he doesn't know it,
He will soon have wings,

And I too don't know
Toward what undreamt condition
Inch by inch I go.

Eloquent and beautiful!

5-0 out of 5 stars A Laugh and a Sigh
I love when a serious poet can also be a little silly.My favorite verse in this volume was the one about the word "meow" being found in the middle of the word "homeowner."Being the new owner of two 5 month old kittens, I laughed out loud at that one. "Out Here" also made me laugh, but it also had enough seriousness to it that one was drawn to think about the possibilities.

Other, more serious, lines caught in my throat."Treetops are not so high/Nor I so low/That I don't instinctively know/How it would be to fly."WOW.

I read one aloud to my husband who commented on the rhyme.He is right.Normally, I don't read much rhyming poetry.But, this was well done.

4-0 out of 5 stars Meticulous craft and the articulation of the subtle important things
I'm going to preface this review by stating that my taste for Richard Wilbur's poetry was 'pre-judged' a bit by my grandfather, who, a master stylist and translator himself, told me one day that he had finally read a post-WW II poet whose style and craft were of a sufficiently high level that he could enjoy his work, and that happened to be Richard Wilbur.I don't know if I have those same standards, but it is a very fine experience to read poetry by someone in control of his language and thinking--both as a poet and translator.These new works are short, but dense--in a powerful way like any creation that embodies pristine sensuality, thoughtfulness, and substance. Many suggest themes about later life and the invisible yet inevitable horizon of death. But in keeping with the often cited dictum that 'A poem should not mean, but be," find out for yourself. Hopefully the suggested $20 retail price won't be the typical one. The title is a bit enigmatic and could be interpreted various ways: as a reference to the idea that a poem can be an entryway or invitation into a larger universe--each one determined by the reader's personal response, or owing to the age of the poet, a chamber where the pathway to 'immortality' or 'mortality' (take your pick) existsIt's ironic that a "conservative" modern writer (i.e., not a member of the various modern poetry schools)is creating art that at this point in time is anti-establishment and against the grain of a culture that is constantly "blinking." I guess what comes around, goes around.

4-0 out of 5 stars Disturbingly Simple
Reading this collection was my first glimpse at the works of Richard Wilbur. It only took a few poems before I was hooked. Anterooms is a collection of original poems, translated works of others, and 37 riddles.
Each of Wilbur's original poems tormented my mind. After reading and re-reading each, I was turned on to his ability to grasp the simplicity of the daily and meld it with the complexity of the mythical. At times I felt as though Eliot, Owens, Frost, and WCW had been sewn together. The poems were disturbingly simple yet delightfully begged me to look deeper at universal ideas and the human condition.
The poems he chose to translate were exceptional as well. The Tomb of Edgar Poe and Two Nativity Poems were my favorite of section II.
Lastly, I felt as though the including of the riddles was quite odd. I have never seen nor heard of anyone doing this, but it was appropriate.
Overall, I believe that any person with the slightest interest in poetry would benefit greatly from sitting down and digging through this collection. They can contemplate a snow shovel leaned against a house or take a stroll through an orchard; one can delightfully ponder the allusions of Trismegistus or question man's use of religion in Two Nativity Poems.

5-0 out of 5 stars Another beautiful book from my favorite living poet
Richard Wilbur continues to prove the publication of his Collected Poems in 2004 to be premature.At age 89, he is still the finest formalist poet America has minted since Robert Frost.In the eponymous poem, "Anterooms," Wilbur ruminates over dreams where "All the living and the dead / meet without surprise."I should think that Frost and Elizabeth Bishop, Emily Dickinson and any other great poet you'd care to name -- none of them would be surprised to meet Wilbur in the anteroom of an anthology.

I hope he lives forever and continues writing poems as fine as "A Measuring Worm," which in five short stanzas makes from a caterpillar an ominous metaphor for the uncertainty of death.In addition to fine original lyrics, the collection also contains more of his translations of Latin riddles, and of the French poets, and of Joesph Brodsky.

Fans of Wilbur will be disappointed only by the short length of the book; newcomers are recommended to start with Collected Poems 1943-2004 or The Voice of the Poet: Richard Wilbur. ... Read more

3. New and Collected Poems (Harvest Book)
by Richard Wilbur
Paperback: 416 Pages (1989-09-18)
list price: US$17.00 -- used & new: US$0.44
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0156654911
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Product Description
This volume represents virtually all of Wilbur’s published poetry to date, including his six earlier collections, twenty-seven new poems, and a cantata. Winner of the 1989 Pulitzer Prize and the Los Angeles Times Book Award for Poetry.
Amazon.com Review
These collected poems of the Poet Laureate of the United States are,despite the prevailing view of modern poetry, a monument to the accessibleand the beautiful. The language is lush, full "of heat and juice andheavy jammed excess," and deeply thoughtful. His concern for carefulhuman stewardship of nature extends also to the artist's creative struggle tocapture the truth of the world. One poignant poem, "The Writer,"addresses this through his reaction to listening outside the door as hisdaughter earnestly struggles to compose a story on her typewriter: "Itis always a matter, my darling/Of life or death, as I had forgotten. I wish/What I wished you before, but harder." The collection won the PulitzerPrize for poetry in 1989. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (8)

5-0 out of 5 stars Richard Wilbur is a master
Richard Wilbur is a master of form. His poems are incredibly stately, balanced, intelligent, and beautiful, and then one notices that everything rhymes exactly where it's supposed to! Bonus points!

5-0 out of 5 stars Beauty & Wit
Richard Wilbur is undoubtedly the best poet of the last half of the 20th century.This book collects all his poetry other than Mayflies (published later) and a couple translations.Buy It!

5-0 out of 5 stars A dynamite collection from a formalist master
This Pulitzer Prize-winning collection contains all of Wilbur (except his great translations of Moliere and Racine) in reverse chronological order of his books from 1989 to 1954.This is the opposite of most poetry collections, so it seems strange to have the poems get less confident as you read on.Still, the final poem, "The Beautiful Changes," is near-perfect and perfectly sums up Wilbur's paradoxical outlook: beauty is eternal and ever-changing.

Wilbur is old school.He is all about meter and rhyme and beauty.His command of sound and sense is second to none alive.(He has edited a collection of Poe's poetry and is famed for his accurate verse translations of Moliere's plays.)

As I read through this book, I put a star by every poem I liked.Flipping through it now, I see there is a star by almost every poem.I did not find Wilbur as deep or as challenging as Frost or Yeats, poets he is compared to by other reviewers on this site.I can, however, appreciate his mastery of the craft of formal poetry.This is not some bad pseudo-Shelley but really a poetry in the language of our time about the issues of our time.

If you detest rhyme, complex stanzas and short, potent lyrics, by all means avoid Mr. Wilbur.But if you find delight in the artful manipulation of language then you are depriving yourself of happiness in not reading this collection.

UPDATE: Wilbur has released a new COLLECTED POEMS in 2004 that supecedes this edition.It only adds a score or so of poems, but I recommend it because there are a few new ones like "Man Running" that no Wilbur fan should be without.

5-0 out of 5 stars the man is really good
it's no wonder wilbur was once the poet laureate or that this collection won the pulitzer, the man is good. he uses the language beautifully (the way english was meant to be in poetry), he has tight control of the rhyme, meter, subject, and words in his poems. where he really shines is in his translations. wilbur is one of the best translators living today.

5-0 out of 5 stars A GRANDMASTER'S LIFE OEUVRE
If you enjoy more than merely reading excellent poetry that rhymes and makes sense, but also composing some of your own, this is the master to be discipled by. Sitting at Wilbur's feet for years can't help but enable some of his craft to rub off by sheer delight or osmosis. Merely by associating with poetry the way it was meant to be written can permanently raise the bar of anyone's craftsmanship to new levels.There is a richness in Wilbur's best work that is unrivaled among his contemporaries and matched by few of his predecessors(Frost, Robinson, Yeats, Hardy, Housman). Also recommended: get your hands and mind on anything Wilbur has written in the form of Essays/Prose that describe what great poetry is and why it will always be core to the human condition. Although Auden once said 'poetry doesn't make anything happen' in his Sept.1939 tribute to Yeats' death, Wilbur's comes closest to making something happen at the spiritual, cognitive and affective level of the human psyche that proves his subject matter matters and always will. Other than the late Frost, no American poet would be more richly deserving of the Nobel Prize for Literature than Richard Wilbur. But as a sincere Christian, he is laboring for no mortal pay; however, he humbly deserves all the accolades and tributes from what is past,or passing, or to come. ... Read more

4. The Pig in the Spigot
by Richard Wilbur
Paperback: 56 Pages (2004-10-01)
list price: US$7.00 -- used & new: US$3.71
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0152050663
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Product Description
A PIG in a spigot? An AX in a taxi? An ELF in a belfry?

Richard Wilbur has been playing with his words again! Aided and abetted by illustrator J.otto Seibold, he reveals that you must choose your words carefully--because you never know what you'll find in them!
Amazon.com Review
Smaller words hide out in bigger words. It's a fact you may not have considered, or at least would never have fully explored without the kind help of Richard Wilbur, two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning poet and former Poet Laureate of the United States. Once you've found the gnat in indignation, however, there's no turning back. You will simply have to dissect word after word to see how the sum is affected by its parts. Is it an accident that the modest, nonflying emu fits inside the word demure? Or that mustn't contains the letters TNT? Wilbur thinks not.

When there's a pig inside your spigot, you
Must not cry out, "There's nothing I can do!"
Be sensible, and take the obvious course,
Which is to turn the spigot on full force.
Sufficient water pressure will, I think,
Oblige the pig to flow into the sink.

J. Otto Seibold, cocreator of the Mr. Lunch books and Olive, the Other Reindeer, has just as good a time as Wilbur in this playful, poetic picture book. His depiction of a moth devouring a cream-of-tomato-soup-colored sweater (making "Anga Anga" sounds as it practically flosses with the yarn) is hilarious, as is the joey shouting "ouch" from inside the mother kangaroo's pouch. Punsters, poetry teachers, and people in general will adore this quirky celebration of the joy of words. And for the record, beware the bug in bugle and the elf in your belfry. (Ages 6 and older) --Karin Snelson ... Read more

Customer Reviews (10)

3-0 out of 5 stars The Pig in the Spigot
I loved this book!I used it at the end of the year with my HA third graders.I think it is more appropriate for 4th or 5th graders.Children need to have some knowledge of spelling to get the jokes. However, I would caution you that there is one page that just really isn't appropriate for a classroom, but that is easily skipped.

5-0 out of 5 stars Zany illustrations accompanying whimsical poems
Siebold's zany illustrations accompany whimsical poems by Wilbur which combine plays on words with instructions about language. Kids receive some fun lessons on word usage along with some fun images representing the best of fantasy.

5-0 out of 5 stars For those who love light wordplay
I really like these little poems -- and the OPPOSITES books by Wilbur, too (recently republished in a single volume) but the humor and style might not be appreciated by all kids. I don't think is aimed at kids just learning how to read, it's more of an introduction to light poetry and wordplay.

I have to add I just don't like the J. Otto Seibold illustrations much (well, the grateful little pig rescued from the spigot is cute) -- I have some friends who love the Mr. Lunch series and I never really got it, they just seem cluttered and ugly to me. But Richard Wilbur is great!

My 8 year old son likes these poems, too, though perhaps not as much as I do -- on the other hand, he doesn't seem to find the illustrations as ugly as I do, either, so we may balance each other out.

We spent some time after reading the book trying to think of similar word combinations -- we might even write our own poems about them.Any book that gets me playing word games with Morris gets 5 stars! (Not that it's hard to get him to play, it's just so much fun to do it!)

Incidentally, the opposite books are great for this, too!

5-0 out of 5 stars Phun Phonics!
Great illustrations, a fun addition to a phonics-based curriculum!I really enjoy reading this with my grandchildren.Some of the words will probably be new for many children... a good thing!

1-0 out of 5 stars No Wit- No Sense-No Vote
This book was not enjoyed by either of my children.It is so ridiculous that children in the age range for whom its written think its stupid, and the young ones who tolerate witless nonsense don't understand the meaning of the words.I have an eleven year old and a four year old, both of which were bored by the second page.The word search within words is a great concept, but I expected there to be some sense about it, so the kids could be entertained AND challenged by the text.I am very disappointed. ... Read more

5. Opposites, More Opposites, and a Few Differences
by Richard Wilbur
Hardcover: 96 Pages (2006-10-01)
list price: US$10.95 -- used & new: US$2.24
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0152056122
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Product Description

This collection includes the full text and drawings from Opposites and More Opposites, plus seven additional poems and drawings about differences. Readers of all ages will delight in this volume of witty wordplay and clever illustrations from two-time Pulitzer Prize recipient and National Book Award winner Richard Wilbur. 
... Read more

Customer Reviews (2)

5-0 out of 5 stars finding a new voice in poetry
I recently stumbled on the poetry of Poet Lauriate, 2-time Pulitzer Prize winner Richard Wilbur, an amazingly versatile wordsmith who's also translated plays by Molière and Racine, as well as penning lyrics for Bernstein's Candide. And he's written books for children, 'Opposites' being a fine example. Perfect and complete pleasure for adults, now I really must round up some worthy and trusted minors to take it out for a spin.

5-0 out of 5 stars Charming poetry
This excerpt of the poetry of Richard Wilbur was perfect as a gift for two young children. It was written for children, but adults will also find it amusing. ... Read more

6. Mayflies: New Poems and Translations
by Richard Wilbur
Hardcover: 96 Pages (2000-04-04)
list price: US$22.00 -- used & new: US$12.90
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0151004692
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Product Description
In 1989 Richard Wilbur published New and Collected Poems, a landmark volume that won that year's Pulitzer Prize. Now, ten years later, he has prepared a collection of all the poetry he has written in the intervening years, together with new translations of Molière (from Amphitryon) and Dante. These twenty-five poems reaffirm Wilbur's stature as one of our greatest living masters of verse.
Amazon.com Review
Richard Wilbur, who won the Pulitzer Prize in 1989 for his New and Collected Poems,has occasionally been pilloried for the twin sins of being too immaculateand too optimistic a poet. (Randall Jarrell, for example, noted that he "obsessivelysees, and shows, the bright underside of every dark thing.") But surelythese are peccadilloes when measured against Wilbur's formal mastery andunsentimental pathos. Both qualities are on display in Mayflies,which collects his work of the 1990s. Not surprisingly, there are more thana few gestures toward mortality, starting with the title poem's evocationof "those lifelong dancers of a day":

In somber forest, when the sun was low,
I saw from unseen pools a mist of flies
In their quadrillions rise
And animate a ragged patch of glow
With sudden glittering...
There is, perhaps, an extra quotient of Frost-like gloom to some of thework here. And indeed, "A Wall in the Woods: Cummington" seems like adeliberate updating of Frost's Yankee pastoralism, although Wilbur impartsan elegance all his own: "What is it for, now that dividing neither / Farmfrom farm nor field from field, it runs / Through deep impartial woods, andis trangressed / By boughs of pine or beech from either side?" Here andthere Wilbur runs out of steam, or bogs down in his own gentility. But he'san appropriately flinty mouthpiece for Dante in "Canto XXV of theInferno," which originally appeared in a 1998 round-robin translation,and poems like "For C." or "Icons" or "Fabrications" show him at the top ofhis game. Formalism could hardly find a more accomplished figure for itsstandard-bearer, and like the spider web that Wilbur celebrates in thelatter poem, Mayflies handily demonstrates "the bright resilience ofthe frailest form."--James Marcus ... Read more

Customer Reviews (10)

5-0 out of 5 stars Wilbur's Singular Genius
Poems in the New Yorker are usually ignored, but "Mayflies" stood out from the page."--with sudden glittering, as when a group of stars appear in a brief gap of black and driven cloud -----" or "I saw from unseen pools a mist of flies in their quadrillions rise" or "---the pistons in some bright machine---".I think this is the best poem in the English language, better even than A.E. Houseman's "The Cherry Tree".Both short poems take us from a beautiful image into the life of the writer.To see Wilbur's great talent of expressing so much with just a few words, his translation of Baudelaire's "Albatross" should be compared with the original. Amazingly beautiful economy, enough to make the French poet jealous.

4-0 out of 5 stars Slim volume that packs a lot of good poetry
Richard Wilbur is the acknowledged living master of formal verse.That means he works in good old-fashioned meter and rhyme.His fans will not be disappointed by this volume, except for its slimness.

If you don't have it already, I recommend his Pulitzer-winning NEW AND COLLECTED POEMS, of which this volume is really just a continuation.MAYFLIES has a healthy dose of translations, including an entire canto of Dante's INFERNO (strange) and scene of Moliere's AMPHITRYON (hilarious!).If there is an over-riding theme, it is of changes and transformations, mostly metaphorical, rather than the Ovidian physical sort.

Wilbur continues harvesting Robert Frost's crops, with several poems about nature and even one about a country wall.The nature poems are mixed with epigrams and lyrics lest you forget that Wilbur can do it all.

My one objection is that this collection really is slim, just 75 pages, much of which is translation.Those on a budget should hold out for a paperback edition, or get the NEW AND COLLECTED.

5-0 out of 5 stars Loved it
Mayflies served as a reminder to me of the power of poetry...language at its most intense.

5-0 out of 5 stars Perfect for the poetic interlude in your life
It would do us all good to occasionally take some time out to read poetry. Words, withtheir subtle and differing meanings in combination are the backbone of civilization and in the hands of a master can generate so many different emotions. This collection, not all of which are by Richard Wilbur,are shining examples of the craft and art of poetry. Each moved me in different ways every time I read them, demonstrating the he is indeed worthy of his Pulitzer Prize. I highly recommend it for your poetic interludes.

5-0 out of 5 stars a gift not lessened over many decades
Richard Wilbur, our best living poet of the formal (and yes, often rhyming!) mode, is still writing wonderfully complex, insightful poems.He can be compared to March King John Philip Sousa, who also embraced a formal genre which other composers may have found stultifying.It is evidence of the time-defying talents of both men that their later work is as fresh and engaging as the efforts of their youth, and as unlimited by the highly structured forms they both chose.People hearing a Sousa march today are as taken with its infectious high spirits as those who heard it a hundred years ago.I believe that Wilbur's poems will prove as moving and as enduring. The best poem is the title work, "Mayflies."As a Lay Carmelite I especially savor the lines,"...called to be/ Not fly or star/ But one whose task is joyfully to see/ How fair the fiats of the caller are."Read this life-enhancing poem, and draw nearer to the Caller who created stars and mayflies, and poets too! ... Read more

7. The School for Wives and The Learned Ladies, by Moliere: Two comedies in an acclaimed translation.
by Jean-Baptiste Moliere
Paperback: 324 Pages (1991-11-15)
list price: US$15.00 -- used & new: US$3.70
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Asin: 0156795027
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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The School for Wives concerns an insecure man who contrives to show the world how to rig an infallible alliance by marrying the perfect bride; The Learned Ladies centers on the domestic calamities wrought by a domineering woman upon her husband, children, and household. “Wilbur...makes Molière into as great an English verse playwright as he was a French one” (John Simon, New York). Introductions by Richard Wilbur.
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Customer Reviews (2)

5-0 out of 5 stars My favorite of the Molieres by Wilbur
I've read all but one of Pulitzer-Prize winner Richard Wilbur's translations of French master playwright Moliere.This is my favorite.I was provoked to laugh out loud many times while reading it, something I rarely do with contemporary comedies, much less ones written in the 17th Century. The School for Wives I found more fresh and delightful than any present-day television sit-com and The Learned Ladies had its moments as well (especially the poetry reading by the pedantic Trissotin).

The School for Wives centers around a man, Arnolfe, who is afraid of being cuckolded. He has raised a girl from when she was very young to know nothing but praying and sewing, so that when she marries she will not have the wherewithal to cheat on him. Of course, a young man in the neighborhood happens to see her while Arnolfe is out. In a series of misunderstandings, the young man ends up enlisting Arnolfe's aid in wooing the girl. Arnolfe's every attempt to thwart their union is in turn thwarted by her. She may have been raised ignorant, but she is not stupid.

The Learned Ladies is, in present context, somewhat misogynist. Much of the comedy revolves around the matriarch of a family who rules her household "like a man." The plot again involves young lovers separated by a willful parent. The daughter of the matriarch wants to wed a young man who is equally in love with her but her mother wants her to wed the stuck-up court poet Trissotin. This is really just a pretext for a lot of the deflation of pomposity at which Moliere excels. For those who like the old battle-of-the-sexes screwball comedies, here is a likely progenitor.

The most famous of Moliere's plays are The Misanthrope, The Hypocondriac and Tartuffe.If you've already read them and like them, then I have no reservation recommending this delightful double-header.

5-0 out of 5 stars Total Joy
Moliere and Wilbur, though they did not, of course, work together, are a match for Gilbert and Sullivan as a wedding of talents. Each of these plays is very funny and full of insights about human vanity. ... Read more

8. The Misanthrope and Tartuffe
by Moliere
Paperback: 336 Pages (1965-10-20)
list price: US$14.00 -- used & new: US$6.89
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Asin: 0156605171
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Two classic plays translated by a Pulitzer Prize-winning poet into English verse. In The Misanthrope, society itself is indicted and the impurity of its critic’s motives is exposed. In Tartuffe, the bigoted and prudish Orgon falls completely under the power of the wily Tartuffe. Introductions by Richard Wilbur.
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Customer Reviews (8)

5-0 out of 5 stars Plays For A Non-play Reader
I rarely read plays (not counting Mr. S.) and rarely read poetry. I'm glad I broke with tradition and read these. I think I went to high school with some of the characters - and 45 years later some of them haven't changed. The plays are so funny that I found myself reading out loud (to myself) using different voices for the characters. I have never done that before and it added to my enjoyment to create a "play" while reading the script.

Most enjoyable - maybe I'll tackle some more plays.

5-0 out of 5 stars A CLASSIC!
Many people are turned off by the rhyming nature of Tartuffe. Personally I find myself so enthralled with the story that I often fail to notice that the story itself rhymes. Real belly laughs abound as we watch Orgon blindly walk through life, oblivious to the religious-hypocrite's misdeeds. It's an absurd story, but it's meant to be thus. It does miss something if you don't see it performed live but once you have, when you read it as it is presented here, you manage to get full enjoyment!

The Misanthrope exists in much the same credit. This work centers on the protagonist Alceste, whose wholesale rejection of his culture's polite social conventions make him tremendously unpopular. This manifests itself in the primary conflict of the play, which results from Alceste's refusal to compliment a sonnet by Oronte, a character who lacks Alceste's respect for unabashed sincerity.

I'm not as big a fan of The Misanthrope as of Tartuffe but I thoroughly enjoyed this book and was very happy to be exposed to the text this way. This is an excellent rendering.

5-0 out of 5 stars The misanthrope and the religious hypocrite
Moliere's leading characters often have one major negative trait which dictates their behavior throughout the play. In this they often seem to be mechanical stock characters and not flesh- and - blood living human beings. In 'The Misanthrope' Alceste believes he must tell the truth to everyone he sees. This is despite the advice of his best friend Philinte. Alceste alienates everyone. At the same time he is madly in love with with Celimene. He wants her to go away with him to retreat from hypocritical society. She however flirtatious and light - minded prefers society to him. The play closes with Philinte trying to persuade Alceste not to leave society completely.
In the second play in this volume the leading character is a religious hypocrite. He finds his way into the heart and mind of a wealthy gentleman Orgon and dominates his family life. Tartuffe steals his money , leads Orgon to disinherit his son and offer his daughter to Tartuffe in marriage. Tartuffeattempts to seduce Orgon's wife. Orgon is convinced to hide under a table where he overhears Tartuffe's entreaties. Orgon then decides to eject him from the family but cannot. It is only with the intercession of the king that the religious hypocrite is stopped. This play raised a furor in its day and the Church opposed its production. Moliere's patron Louis XIV allowed its production in private but only after five years allowed its public staging.
In both these plays Moliere viciously satires the human propensity to remain fixed and static in one's own character, and reaction to reality. He derides human folly but always with the redeeming grace of laughter.
For the contemporary reader of the work who does not feel the special force of the work in its original language there often may seem something forced and artificial in the work. Moliere's work it seems to me gain much from being staged and to know them truly reading alone is not enough.

5-0 out of 5 stars "Sincerity in excess / Can get you into a very pretty mess"
Here they are.The Misanthrope and Tartuffe, arguably Moliere's two most famous plays, translated by Pulizter Prize-winner Richard Wilbur, the crown jewels of his poetic output.These translations are performed all the time, and have proved themselves on the modern stage.But the effect of them is not lessened by reading, as this bookshelf-ready edition shows.They are packed with hilarious observations about the pretentions in us all.

The Misanthrope is about a man who tells the harshest truth to everyone but himself; Tartuffe about hypocricy in religion.They read fast and funny, the rhyming couplets of the original faithfully reproduced.The language seems so natural and witty that you think perhaps these plays weren't written in the seventeenth century.But they were, this species of farce being extinct these days, except in rare places like The Simpsons.I can not only unhesitatingly recommend these, but also all of Wilbur's translations of Moliere.It is rare for a comic author to get such a seriously worthy treatment.Hooray!

5-0 out of 5 stars Brilliant Balletic Comedy & Translation
In both these plays, Wilbur brings Moliere's true genius to real life.Previous translations of Moliere's work pale by comparison to Wilbur's brilliant translations.It was my feeling, that would Moliere by alive today, and writing in American English, he would write the way Wilbur translated it.

In comparison to prose translations in the past, Wilbur, past US Poet Laureate and Pulitzer Prize winner, truly gives the reader the real feeling of Moliere's "Balletic Comedy" style, as Moliere used his poetry and comedy to make complex and serious points about life of "regular" people, as opposed to royalty such as Shakespeare concentrated on, and so many other playwrites of the past.

In reading Wilbur's translations, one can virtually imagine the cast prancing and mincing across the stage as they humorously render these rhyming couplets at each other, and the audience.The true genius of both Moliere and Wilbur is illustrated most profoundly and strikingly in these translations.Any true lover of Moliere, and even those who have never read him before, should treat themselves to Wilbur's translations for a Moliere experience, that is unparalleled in any other versions previously published. ... Read more

9. Conversations with Richard Wilbur (Literary Conversations Series)
Paperback: 288 Pages (1990-03-01)
list price: US$25.00 -- used & new: US$12.50
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Asin: 0878054251
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With wit, charm, and grace the interviews in this collection demonstrate what readers of Wilbur’s poems long have suspected: that this former U.S. poet laureate is no less persuasive and forceful in extemporaneous speech than he is in verse and prose.

Wilbur proves as enlightening and thought-provoking with student reporters from Amherst College, his alma mater, as with journalists for THE PARIS REVIEW, displaying the same dazzling talents that garnered him the Pulitzer Prize in 1957 and again thirty years later.

Opinionated yet ever-charitable, he presents the case for rhyme and meter in a dozen different ways in just as many interviews. He expresses a degree of admiration for poetic opposites such as Allen Ginsberg and addresses the objections of his critics.

Wilbur’s comments and keen insights on his coevals and his craft read as articulately as fine prose. His observations never fail to stimulate or to challenge. ... Read more

10. Tartuffe: A Comedy in Five Acts (English and French Edition)
by Moliere
Hardcover: 240 Pages (1997-03-01)
list price: US$31.00 -- used & new: US$21.23
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Asin: 0151002819
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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The translation into English verse of one of Molière’s most masterful and most popular plays. “A continuous delight from beginning to end” (Richard Eberhart). Introduction by Richard Wilbur.
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Customer Reviews (33)

5-0 out of 5 stars Fast delivery! Good quality!
I got the book in my mailbox 3 days after the purchase. The book is in a super new condition. Love the service!

5-0 out of 5 stars Wonderful Story, Spectacular Translation
Tartuffe / 0-151-00281-9

With scathing satire, gorgeous poetry, clever word choice, and a beautiful English translation, Tartuffe viciously attacks religious hypocrites who posture and preen in public and the dupes who are foolish enough to believe that holiness can only be measured by the outward show of morality. Moliere utilizes the sharp-witted servant girl motif to provide a cutting Greek chorus and to propel the action in a way that the obedient daughter stereotype cannot. In the end, hypocrisy is exposed for the ugly stain that it is, and punished with humiliation and repudiation.

The story here is superb, and Moliere is careful to skewer only the hypocritical religious, and not the true believer. When the once-dupe sees the light of Tartuffe's hypocrisy and declares that all religion is now bunk, he is cautioned to avoid exchanging one extreme for another. Look for the good in all men, he is told, regardless of religious affiliation, but do not shun the religious simply because they are so.

5-0 out of 5 stars Great
Exactly how the seller described it, and it arrived in a reasonable amount of time. Great product, great seller.

5-0 out of 5 stars The Facades and Scandals of the Seventeenth Century and Today
Intriguing and entertaining, the play Tartuffe is a satire displaying the scandalous truths and facades of the seventeenth century. Although initially written for the people of King Louis the XIV, the book can be read by an every day high school student or adult. Through reading the play the audience is able to see the deception of people and that we can not always judge by what we see. Moliere brings about this concept through his witty play, and in such a manner that you can't put it down. In Tartuffe, Moliere uses the characterization, rhyme scheme, setting, and irony to effectively inform an every day audience about the distinction between appearances versus reality.

Characterization of Tartuffe

The perfect example of a hypocritical facade is displayed in the characterization of Tartuffe; in fact the name can be defined as one resembling false piety of religion.Tartuffe's character doesn't appear until nearly the middle of the play and the first image the audience receives is of him demanding his servant to, "hang up my hair-shirt, put my scourge in place, and pray Laurent for Heaven's perpetual grace. I'm going to prison now, to share my last few coins with the poor wretches there." (Tartuffe 3.2). The scourge and hair-shirt are used as a means of penance and chastisement. Religious ascetics will operate these items in private, showing their true devotion to God and to no one else. Tartuffe, however, made it obvious to the entire household what he was doing. Cleante, the character of reason, expounds upon Tartuffe's character, "those whose hearts are truly pure and lowly, don't make a flashy show of being holy. There is a vast difference it seems to me, between true piety and hypocrisy." (Tartuffe 1.5). If Tartuffe was truly pious, he wouldn't need ratification from others for his good deeds, self-satisfaction would suffice. Although Tartuffe appears holy and raves about his goodness, in reality it is just for show.

Another example of Tartuffe's hypocrisy occurs with Dorine. He tells Dorine to "cover that bosom, girl. The flesh is weak; such sights as that can undermine the soul." (Tartuffe 3.2). Tartuffe might appear offended by the act of seeing a women's chest, however, he doesn't have a problem with sleeping with another man's wife. In the next scene Tartuffe's counterfeit façade is dissolved with Elmire and he offers her "love without scandal, and pleasure without fear" if she will commit adultery with him. To Tartuffe "it is no sin to sin in confidence" and though "some joys are wrong in heaven's eyes, heaven is not averse to compromise." (Tartuffe 4.5). In the scriptures, committing adultery is the third worst sin to commit in God's eyes. Moliere uses this example of Tartuffe's character to expose the many scandals occurring in the seventeenth century with the priests and their inability to remain celibate. Despite the fact priests and those who act pious [such as Tartuffe] appear holy, in reality they sometimes use young girls, committed adultery, and partake in many other scandals.

Not only does Tartuffe aspire to sleep with another man's wife, but also he indulges in the seven deadly sins. While Orgon is away from the house, Tartuffe ate "a leg of mutton and a brace of pheasants,""snored away until the break of day," and "drank four beakers full of port." (Tartuffe 1.4) Tartuffe is supposed to be a devout follower of the son of God. Nonetheless he overstuffs himself, eats too much meat, drinks and oversleeps. Orgon tries defend Tartuffe by saying he "gave him gifts, but in his humbleness he'd beg me every time to give me less." What Orgon doesn't understand is that a Christ-like figure would not accept gifts, and Tartuffe still takes them in, along with wishing to overtake Orgon's household. Tartuffe's sanctimonious display allows the audience to effectively see that he is a hypocrite. Moliere makes it a point to the audience that just because someone appears holy, it does not always hold true and in reality they could be hypocrites.

Characterization of Orgon

Moliere uses the characterization of Orgon to portray a father attempting to control his household when in reality Orgon is gullible and Tartuffe is running the household. Orgon enforces his "fatherly role" upon Mariane telling her Tartuffe is "to be your husband, is that clear" because "it's a father's privilege." (Tartuffe 2.1). He also repeatedly orders the other members in the family around, announcing he is the one giving the orders in the household. (Tartuffe 3.6). Although Orgon attempts to be the one giving the orders in the house, Tartuffe depicts Orgon as growing "more gullible by the day" and that he "could lead him by the nose." (Tartuffe 4.5) Tartuffe is able to get Orgon to sign papers to make him Orgon's only son and heir and eventually Tartuffe takes over Orgon's household. Moliere uses this example to effectively inform his audience that even though we appear to be in control of situations, giving someone too much power and being gullible can lead to a reversal of fortune.

Rhyme Scheme

Another tool Moliere uses to show the difference between appearance and reality is through the rhyme scheme. Moliere employs rhymed couplets to amplify the reading tempo. A rhymed couplet is two lines where the ending syllable of each line rhymes. For example: "there is nothing that I more cherish and admire than honest zeal and true religious fire." (Tartuffe 1.5). The prompt reading symbolizes the frantic disorder of Orgon's household. Although the family tries to put on a façade that they are a perfect aristocratic family of the time, in reality turmoil and conflict subsist throughout the household. This example was true of many families of the time and is also true today.


The setting also portrays the turmoil of the home and augments the pace of the play. The whole play takes place in the same room in Orgon's home and the characters are constantly entering and exiting the room. This causes chaos and confusion resembling the situation of the family. Moliere efficiently informs the audience that although households [in the 1600s or today] may appear to be perfect on the outside, if you dig a little deeper into the reality, they can be muddled.

Dramatic Irony

Moliere also utilizes irony to expose the difference between demeanor and veracity to the audience. On two occasions the play uses the dramatic irony of Damis or Orgon hiding in a closet or under the table while a conversation between Elmire and Tartuffe is occurring. The first instance has Damis hidden in a closet and the audience gets a whim of Tatuffe's true character. Although Tartuffe "may be pious, he is human too." (Tartuffe 3.3). Tartuffe starts touching Elmire and proclaiming his lusts for her and his pious mask becomes undone. It is not until the second occurrence of dramatic irony that Tartuffe's façade is completely gone and the reality of his lasciviousness is unveiled. Tartuffe tells Elmire "to be his pupil" and he will show her "how to conquer scruple." (Tartuffe 4.5). Once again the audience can see the hypocrisy of Tartuffe.Moliere uses this tool of dramatic irony to show the audience that we can not always believe what we see because, once we truly get to know someone they can be a completely different person than they appeared.

I would highly recommend this book to all people fifteen and over because not only does Moliere give you insights on life, but also he is very entertaining and satirical. Due to the rhymed couplets, the book is a very quick read and it is enjoyable because of the irony and witty diction used throughout.Tartuffe is guaranteed to make you laugh and it will institute deep thinking for those wanting to read an academic work.

4-0 out of 5 stars Excellent for those who love satire
For those who knows Shakespeare's story, "Othello", it's amazing how similar this is.The only difference is the knowledge of situation by the sharp-tongued maid.Oh, and the deus ex machina ending that abruptly steals the remainder of your breath away (after having laughed so hard at the ridiculous, satirical antics of the antagonist and the idiocy of the protagonist).If you enjoy French humor, this is for you.If not, or if you prefer to cross the thin line between comedy and tragedy, read Othello instead. ... Read more

11. Responses: Prose Pieces 1953-1976
by Richard Wilbur
 Paperback: Pages (1976-01-01)

Asin: B001MTBFU2
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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After reading Collected Poems(1989); Mayflies (2000) and Catbird's Song (newer essays), this book is a great gap-filler of insight into the mind and marrow of America's greatest living poet. The best essay is on A.E.Housman, a favorite poem titledEpitaph on an Army of Mercenaries: 'These, in the day when heaven was falling,/The hour when earth's foundations fled,/Followed their mercenary calling,/And took their wages and are dead./Their shoulders held the sky suspended;/They stood, and earth's foundations stay;/What God abandoned, these defended,/And saved the sum of things for pay.' Wilbur uses this poem as an example of how much the meaning of a great poem resides in its sound, pacing, diction, literary references('Wages of sin is death': Romans 6:23), its convention - the deliberate movement that releases the full and powerful sonority the author intended. This essay alone is worth twice the price of the book. Every serious poet or poem lover needs this by the easy chair. ... Read more

12. Phaedra, by Racine
by Richard Wilbur
Kindle Edition: 132 Pages (1987-09-04)
list price: US$12.00
Asin: B003WUYQ3W
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Phaedra is consumed with passion for Hippolytus, her stepson. Believing her husband dead, she confesses her love to him and is rebuffed. When her husband returns alive, Phaedra convinces him that it was Hippolytus who attempted to seduce her. In his interpretation, Racine replaced the stylized tragedy with human-scale characters and actions. Introduction by Richard Wilbur.
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Customer Reviews (5)

3-0 out of 5 stars no title
"Phaedra" has very good suspense, and the language really flowed well.All the grave sins upon which disaster builds are basically sins of the mind only - no incest ever really took place.And Hippolytus was only Phaedra's stepson.Much ado about nothing.

5-0 out of 5 stars Wilbur's Treatment of Phaedra
Wilbur's translation of Phaedra is excellent, and I would highly recommend it.

5-0 out of 5 stars The essence of Racine -The horses of the night run too fast
This is arguably Racine's best known play. It is based on an earlier version of the play by Euripides. It is written at a relatively late period in Racine's career when he was moving back toward Jansensim and a fully religious life. The play is considered the most perfect French example ofa tragedy written according to the classic rules. The story is one of illicit passion and its price. One strange idea of Racine was that the 'gods' forced people to sin, and then punished them for this. This cruelty of the gods somehow suits the whole tenor of Racine's work which has a certain fierce kind of cruelty in it. Phaedra the second wife of the king Theseus falls passionately in love with Theseus' son Hippolytus. Hippolytus who supposedly hates woman is in fact secretly in love with Arcis. Upon receiving a message that Theseus has died Phaedra contain contain her passion and confesses her love to a horrified Hippolytus. Then it is revealed that the message of Theseus dead like Mark Twain's has been premature. Theseus returns and urged on by her wicked servant Oenone Phaedra indicates that Hippolytus has attempted to seduce her. Outraged Theseus orders that his son be executed. Phaedra upon learning this thinks to confess, but then learns that Hippolytus is not indifferent women as he has pretended to her but in fact loves Arcis. In a fit of jealousy she allows Theseus to carry out the execution. Upon learning of Hippolytus death, she commits suicide.
The virtous Phaedra who worked so hard to overcome her passion for Hippolytus has been defeated by that passion. The passion, the sinful nature of the human heart has ruthlessly brought to the tragic death of the innocence. This is the harsh and bleak world of Racine's tragedy, the cruel world in which sinner and innocent alike go to their doom.

3-0 out of 5 stars Not my favorite of Wilbur's translations
The play is a good one.Racine manages to make a classical tragedy very real and very resonant (to 17th Century France and to us.)Many translators have tried their hand at it recently, including Ted Hughes.

I'm a big fan of Richard Wilbur's translations of Moliere, so I thought I'd give this one a try.Wilbur manages to reproduce the rhyme and metrical scheme of the original, but compared to his other translations, this one is pretty dead.Where you expect high-flying rhetoric, Wilbur never modulates out of his fusty base tone.The original play is devoid of comedy, which is a shame, since Wilbur is so good at it.

The bottom line is that this translation is quite readable, if not perhaps definitive.Those with access to a library might want to compare all the new translations and see which one suits them best.Fans of Wilbur are advised to stick to his Molieres.

4-0 out of 5 stars Racine's version of the myth of Phaedrus and Hippolytus
This year I am using Jean Racine's "Phaedra" as the one non-classical text in my Classical Greek and Roman Mythology Class (yes, I know, "Classical" makes "Greek and Roman" redundant, but it was not my title).In Greek mythology, Phaedra was the half-sister of the Minotaur who was married to Theseus after the hero abandoned her sister Ariadne (albeit, according to some versions of what happened in Crete).Phaedra fell in love with her step-son Hippolytus, who refused her advances.Humiliated, she falsely accused him of having raped her.

My students read "Phaedra" after Euripides's "Hippolytus" as part of an analogy criticism assignment, in which they compare/contrast the two versions, which are decidedly different, to say the least.In the "original" Greek version Hippolytus is a follower of Artemis, and the jealous Aphrodite causes his stepmother to fall in love with him.Phaedra accuses Hippolytus of rape and then hangs herself; Theseus banished his son who is killed before Artemis arrives to tell the truth.In Racine's version Hippolytus is a famous hater of women who falls in love with Aricia, a princess of the blood line of Athens.When false word comes that Theseus is dead, Phaedra moves to put her own son on the throne.In the end the same characters end up dead, but the motivations and other key elements are different.

While I personally would not go so far as to try and argue how Racine's neo-classical version represents the France of 1677, I have found that comparing and contrasting the two versions compels students to think about the choices each dramatist has made.Both the similarities and the differences between "Hippolytus" and "Phaedra" are significant enough to facilitate this effort.Note:Other dramatic versions of this myth include Seneca's play "Phaedra," "Fedra" by Gabriele D'Annunzio, "Thesee" by Andrea Gide, and "The Cretan Woman" by Robinson Jeffers. ... Read more

13. Don Juan
by Moliere
Paperback: 144 Pages (2001-01-25)
list price: US$13.00 -- used & new: US$2.98
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 015601310X
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Don Juan, the "Seducer of Seville," originated as a hero-villain of Spanish folk legend, is a famous lover and scoundrel who has made more than a thousand sexual conquests. One of Molière's best-known plays, Don Juan was written while Tartuffe was still banned on the stages of Paris, and shared much with the outlawed play. Modern directors transform Don Juan in every new era, as each director finds something new to highlight in this timeless classic. Richard Wilbur's flawless translation will be the standard for generations to come, as have his translations of Molière's other plays. Witty, urbane, and poetic in its prose, Don Juan is, most importantly, as funny now as it was for audiences when it was first presented.
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Customer Reviews (6)

2-0 out of 5 stars Neither Comedy Nor Fun.
I had a strange feeling, while reading Don Juan by Moliere, that it wasn't the original work. After looking up in the internet, I found out that there were earlier works of the protagonist. Moliere never got me interested in his five act "comedy" because it's hard to like an unlikable character. Don Juan brings out the worst of a libertine, and it's no fun when he manipulates feelings and thinks that he can come and go as he pleases. Although he does have a good point, Don Juan is better off dead. I didn't care much for the bashing of the religious principles which was probably the biggest reason why the play was banned in France. Today, Moliere's Don Juan is rather ordinary. However, the playwright does keep some of the conversations lively, and that's why there is some merit about the play. Notice that I used quotation marks around the word comedy, that's because it is not. As soon as the supernatural was applied to the play, I lost interest. All in all, that wasn't Don Juan that I read.

5-0 out of 5 stars Great French comedy
This is a hilarious and witty comedy about Don Juan, a womanizer with absolutely no morals or scruples about adultery, women, sex, and deception. Moliere makes a satirical commentary on the hypocrisy of the members of society who preach religion and seek to convert others. I loved the exchanges/debates between Juan and his valet.

4-0 out of 5 stars The "Seducer of Seville"
To call someone a "Don Juan" today is to call him a womanizer, or if you're willing to be a bit more generous in your interpretation, a smooth-operating romancer.That was the beginning and end of my knowledge of all things Don Juan until about two years ago when I first saw the legend of Don Juan performed on stage.It was then that I learned that "womanizer" only begins to scratch the surface of the character, and that Don Juan is in fact an unrepentant libertine who undoes women at every opportunity and then moves on to his next target with the clearest of consciences and without so much as a glance backwards.

Recently, I was reminded of that play and that in turn has spurred an interest in reading the various interpretations of the Don Juan story.The most well known are the original 1630 play by the Spanish playwright Tirso de Molina; Moliere's version that followed a few decades later; a 19th century play by another Spanish playwright by the name of Jose Zorrilla; and Byron's unfinished magnum opus.

An English version of Tirso de Molina's play has been hard to come by, so my reading of the many Don Juan's began with Richard Wilbur's translation of Moliere's work, and it proved to be a thoroughly enjoyable starting point.Moliere's play wonderfully balances wit and at times even rollick with deeper, empathetic moments, such as a powerful scene in which Don Juan's father denounces his son for his baseness and for his disregard of his family's noble legacy, which Don Juan knowingly cheapens through his morally corrupt lifestyle.As for Don Juan himself, there is no deed that is too wicked.As the play opens, we learn that his most recent conquest was a certain Doña Elvira, a nun whom Don Juan, under promise of marriage, beguiled into leaving the convent and breaking her vows.When Don Juan sets his eye on his next seducee, Don Juan's explanation of why he can no longer bear to be with Doña Elvira only adds impiety to his already impious deed, and it's a wonder that God does not make a dark smudge of Don Juan right then and there.Yet despite Don Juan's utterly contemptible acts, Moliere does not make him entirely unsympathetic.Don Juan may be a monster, but he's one that possesses the gifts of charm and eloquence, and we can't help but to find him fascinating.His defense of his actions, and by extension of his immorality, is brilliant and perverse and deeply seductive all at once; his discourse on hypocrisy is sharp and scathing and tempts us, not entirely without success, to reconsider his moral abrogation against the backdrop of society's insincerity.For all his deplorable acts, at least it can be said that Don Juan is true to himself, even in the face of terrible consequences.

As for Richard Wilbur's work in translating Moliere's play, I'm always somewhat reluctant to comment on the quality of a translation.For one, the very reason that I'm reading a translation is that I'm unversed in the original language, and second, I rarely fully read multiple translations of a given work.When there are multiple translations available, I generally read a few passages in each and compare them to find which one speaks to me more.In the case of Moliere's Don Juan, that translation was Wilbur's; the language is vibrant and modern and free of the stodginess that I encountered in older translations.If you're interested in reading Moliere's Don Juan, which I wholeheartedly recommend, then this I believe is the translation to go with.

5-0 out of 5 stars Moliere Would Have Loved This Translation
This play is a treat to read, and I can't wait to see it performed.Moliere, however, must share the spotlight with the translator, Richard Wilbur, who shows an elegant flair for conversational prose.The contemporary American reader lives in a land of waning religiosity, yet one in which theocracy is ironically gaining influence in national politics.It is in this context that we have to smile, if not laugh, when Don Juan says,

"It's no longer shameful to be a dissembler; hypocrisy is now a fashionable vice and all the fashionable vices pass for virtues.The part of the God-fearing man is the best possible role to play nowadays, and in our present society the hypocrite's profession has extraordinary advantages.It's an art whose dishonesty always goes unchallenged...The hypocrite, by means of pious pretenses, attaches himself to the devout, and anyone who then assails him is set upon by a great phalanx of the godly...The true believers are easily hoodwinked by the false...I can't tell you how many men I know who, by means of a feigned devotion, have glossed over the sins of their youth, wrapped themselves in the cloak of religion, and in that holy disguise are now free to be the worst of scoundrels!"

Amazon's rules prohibit me from disclosing the ending, though it has been known for some 331 years, but I will tell you that it leaves Don Juan's valet, Sganarelle, wondering how he'll ever get his back pay.

5-0 out of 5 stars A Jocular Portrayal of an Immoral Atheist
"What a fine creed that is! So far as I can see, your religion consists of arithmetic." --said to Don Juan by his valet, Sganarelle

Richard Wilbur won the National Book Award, the Pulitzer Prize, and he has served as Poet Laureate of the United States. His translation of Moliere's once censored comedy, Don Juan (1665), successfully conveys to English readers not only the words but also the humor of the original. For his translation, Wilbur wrote an insightful Introduction explicating the play's moral subtleties.

The play's renowned French comic dramatist, Moliere (1622-1673), previously authored Tartuffe (1664), a comedy lampooning religious hypocrisy. However, Tartuffe offended pious sensibilities to the point that performances of it halted prematurely. As observed in Wilbur's Introduction, Moliere may have hoped to placate religious militants opposed to Tartuffe with a comedy about a young, wealthy, atheistic, amorous scoundrel that gets his just punishment in hell.

However, if placation of religious scruples partially motivated Moliere to select the Don Juan character, his intention failed. The comedy outraged the pious, forcing him to make cuts after the first performance. Like Tartuffe, Don Juan closed early although it was a box-office success. Wilbur suggests that the primary reason it offended is its moral ambiguity. For although Don Juan gets his just punishment for his wickedness, mockery of orthodoxy is just below the surface of the plot.

For example, in Act 1, Scene 1, orthodox beliefs are implicitly put on a par with superstition when Don Juan's valet, Sganarelle, reports that his master "doesn't believe in Heaven, or Hell, or werewolves even." In Act 3, Scene 1, Sganarelle asks if Don Juan believes in Heaven, Hell, and the Devil, to each of which he makes plain his disbelief. Finally, Sganarelle asks if he believes in the Bogeyman, and he answers, "Don't be an idiot." Sganarelle then objects, "Now there you go too far, for there's nothing truer in this world than the Bogeyman; I'll stake my life on that." Thus, Moliere casts a nincompoop as an apologist of orthodoxy.

Another offensive characterization is the pious Poor Man in Scene 2 of Act 3. He is an idiot living alone for ten years in the woods praying for the prosperity of those who give him alms while he himself lacks "a crust of bread to chew on." Don Juan suggests that he worry less about others and pray to Heaven for a coat. Offering him a gold coin, Don Juan says, "Here it is, take it. Take it, I tell you. But first you must blaspheme." The Poor Man replies, "No, Sir, I'd rather starve to death."

Perhaps most offensive is Don Juan's explanation of why he has decided to become a religious hypocrite in Act 5, Scene 2. Being a hypocrite will make it easier to hide his misconduct and make obtaining forgiveness easier by repentance if found out. Moreover, being the hypocrite will enable him to accuse his enemies of impiety, thereby stirring up against them "a swarm of ignorant zealots."

Thus, in Moliere's Don Juan, nothing is sacred, and Richard Wilbur's translation captures every outrageous bit of it. Buy it, read it and laugh! ... Read more

14. The Ancient Tradition of Geometric Problems
by Wilbur Richard Knorr
 Hardcover: 411 Pages (1985-01-01)
list price: US$74.50 -- used & new: US$74.50
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Asin: 0817631488
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Highly regarded study focuses on ancient Greek efforts to solve the three classical problems of cube duplication, angle trisection and circle-quadrature by such famed mathematicians as Hippocrates of Chios, Eudoxus, Archimedes and Apollonius, and spans virtually the entire period of ancient geometry. "Essential reading"—Mathematical Reviews. 1986 edition. Bibliography. 255 black-and-white illustrations.
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Customer Reviews (1)

4-0 out of 5 stars Scholarly, fragmented, but also of interest for non-experts
This is a history of Greek mathematics from the point of view of problems and problem solving, not least the three classical problems: cube duplication, circle quadrature, angle trisection. Knorr argues that this restriction is not arbitrary: "One seems typically to assume that metamathematical concerns were the effective motivating force underlying efforts of geometers ... In general, I will find most convincing the 'internalist' position that technical research is directed toward the solution of problems arising from previous and current research efforts", mathematics thus being "on the whole autonomous in setting the directions of research". So the focus on problems is a way to understand the development of Greek mathematics by exposing the mindsets of the mathematicians. This aspect is naturally very interesting, and the mere presence of such perspectives sets this book apart from the bare bones histories of Heath et al. However, grand programs and pretty pots on the cover is not everything. Our fragmented knowledge of Greek mathematics does not allow Knorr's program to be carried out in a completely satisfactory manner; neither is the big picture one of Knorr's main concerns. Instead much of the book amounts to quite specialised scholarly analysis of sources and critique of other scholarly interpretations. In the end, one is not entirely convinced that Knorr has unveiled the key to understanding Greek mathematics. His criticism of other interpretative schemes is convincing but sometimes suspiciously convenient. So, for instance, Knorr rather enjoys arguing that philosophy never had a major influence on mathematics (thus supporting his point of view) while the more interesting and relevant questions of the influences of astronomy, mechanics and optics are largely silenced. ... Read more

15. The Misanthrope and Tartuffe. Translated in English Verse by Richard Wilbur.
by Moliere
 Paperback: Pages (1965)

Asin: B000L5AEDC
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16. Richard Wilbur's Creation (Under Discussion)
 Paperback: 304 Pages (1984-02-01)
list price: US$17.95
Isbn: 0472063480
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Traces the history of the poet's critical reception and analyzes his poetic vision.
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17. Catbird's Song
by Richard Wilbur
 Hardcover: 256 Pages (1997-03-15)
list price: US$31.00 -- used & new: US$8.39
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Asin: 0151002541
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The Catbird's Song is a selection of prose pieces, on a variety of topics, by one of the most distinguished poets and translators of our times, Richard Wilbur. These lectures, letters, reviews, addresses, prefaces, and interviews-what Wilbur calls the "prose by-products of a poet's life"-not only reveal the ideas and concerns that inform his remarkable oeuvre but also offer fresh takes on the works and lives of poets we thought we knew, poets we ought to know, and much more. Here, then, are his appreciations of Poe, Milton, Tennyson, and Longfellow; paeans to his contemporaries Elizabeth Bishop, Mae Swenson, and John Ciardi; an introduction to the work of the neglected poet Witter Bynner; his comments on some of his own poems; and thoughts on the art of translation. Throughout all, Wilbur's voice resonates with clarity, reason, and authority.
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18. The Bungler
by Moliere
Paperback: 120 Pages (2010-06-01)
list price: US$14.95 -- used & new: US$8.57
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Asin: 1559363517
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“A mischievous new translation by the poet Richard Wilbur, [The Bungler] is great good fun and should open the gate for the play to be presented with the regularity it deserves.”—Bruce Weber, The New York Times

“My notion of translation is that you try to bring it back alive. Speak-ability is so important. . . . I came to see that a line that simply says ‘I love you,’ at the right point in the show, is entirely adequate, that a great deal of verbal sophistication is not necessarily called for.”—Richard Wilbur

Poet Richard Wilbur’s translations of Molière’s plays are loved, renowned, and performed throughout the world. This volume is part of Theater Communications Group’s new series (with cover designs by Chip Kidd) to complete trade publication of these vital works of French neoclassical comedy. The Bungler is Molière’s first recognizably great play, and the first to be written in verse. The charming farce is set in Sicily and born of the great Italian tradition of the commedia dell’arte: Loyal valet Mascarille schemes to win the lovely Celie away from rival Leadre, and into the arms of his master Leslie. Molière himself originated the role Mascarille, self-described as “the rashest fool on earth,” who naturally bungles the job along the way.

Richard Wilbur is a two-time Pulitzer Prize winner and a former Poet Laureate of the United States. His publications include six volumes of poetry and two collections of selected verses, a collection of prose, and two books for children.

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19. Le Cid and The Liar
by Richard Wilbur
Paperback: 272 Pages (2009-08-11)
list price: US$13.95 -- used & new: US$4.99
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Asin: 0156035839
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Richard Wilbur’s translations of the great French dramas have been a boon to acting troupes, students of French literature and history, and theater lovers. He continues this wonderful work with two plays from Pierre Corneille: Le Cid is Corneille’s most famous play, a tragedy set in Seville that illuminates the dangers of being bound by honor and the limits of romantic love; The Liar is a farce, set in France and dealing with love,misperceptions, and downright falsifications, which ends, of course, happily ever after.

These two plays, together in one volume, work in perfect tandem to showcase the breadth of Corneille’s abilities. Taking us back to the time he portrays as well as the time of his greatest success as a playwright, they remind us of that the delights to be found on the French stage are truly ageless.

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20. Even As We Speak: Poems (Richard Wilbur Award, 3)
by Len Krisak
Hardcover: 77 Pages (2000-12-01)
list price: US$15.00 -- used & new: US$14.00
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Asin: 0930982533
Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars
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Even as We Speak by Len Krisak, recipient of the 2000 Richard Wilbur Award, is an evocative and unforgettable collection of carefully-chosen and carefully-crafted poems and translations. Although there's a remarkable versatility in the collection -- satires, narratives, lyrics, and elegies -- most of the poems are written in a haunting meditative mode that's all the more effective for its quiet methods and its subtle indirections. The British Center for Literary Translation has described Krisak's translations as "brilliant," and Tom Lux, in choosing the author as the recipient of the Los Angeles Poetry Festival Award, has specifically cited and praised the author's "elegant contemporary sonnets." Even as We Speak is a unique and powerfully-affecting collection by a poet with the rare gift for finding the indelible significances of the past -- while simultaneously making them meaningful for the present. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (4)

2-0 out of 5 stars rather weak
Normally I love these winners of the Richard Wilbur Award, but I found Krisak's book to be rather weak. Disappointing because Rhina Espaillat and her Powwow River Poets are usually quite good, but Krisak's poems left something to be desired. They didn't sizzle or pop, and quite frankly, I didn't find the technique all that great either (I think he needs to take a long look at his line breaks). Still, there is promise with this poet, especially with a mentor like Rhina Espaillat.

1-0 out of 5 stars Not the second coming of W.B. Yeats, but of Mr. Rogers
A close friend recommended me this book, so I bought it and waited for it with much anticipation. I've had it for over a month, and now I can honestly say that I wasted 15 bucks.
Mr. Krisak put this reader to sleep on many occasions, and never delighted or informed, or even evoked a chuckle. He is just another drab and dull formalist with a wooden ear that has never heard music.

But I'll give him a star for the effort, since very few poets write in meter today.

5-0 out of 5 stars Poetry in the Grand (and Ruminative) Manner

This is a beautiful book of poetry which might be called "old-fashioned" if it wasn't so darned good.

Len Krisak still believes in meter and rhyme, god bless him, but that doesn't mean he restricts himself to square-rigged topics. He ruminates on everything from Lot's wife to grain silos to "The Blue Dahlia" -- though in the end, of course, he's really giving us a peek at his own soul.

Many of these poems have a stately, faintly melancholy air which gives the collection a remarkable amount of heft. My particular favorites included "View from a Midwest Motel Window" and the mown-grass aroma of "Held."

4-0 out of 5 stars Even As We Speak, A Review
“So far as I’m concerned,” said J. V. Cunningham, “poetry is metrical writing. If it’s anything else, I don’t know what it is.” As general acceptance of Cunningham’s definition would disqualify a majority of contemporary poets, let us insist that his definition is inadequate, that no good can come of it––

But here is one of the remnant of whom it could be said, ‘He is a poet,’ even if Cunningham’s definition applied. Len Krisak’s poetry is metrical writing, in form.

The cover of Even As We Speak shows a picture of Roman columns standing in a field of dry grasses and tall, leafless trees, against a white sky. “Even as we speak,” the picture tells us, “time wears away the old forms.” The picture is beautiful in its evocation of time past and passing, with its faint promise of renewal in the slender young trees.

Turning the cover and entering the poems themselves, the reader finds the old forms made new again. Here are sonnets, quatrains, rondeaus, rhymed couplets, a ballade... Is the reader so indoctrinated with prevailing opinion as to consider these forms outdated, to assume that the poet who writes in form must choose tired themes, clichéd expression, worn-out material? Only look at the titles of Krisak’s poems: “Dying at a Resort,” “Ocean Kayakers in the Morning,” “High School Trench Coat...” Those are not Tennyson’s subjects.

“Father / Shaving / Mirror,” perhaps the most masterful of the poems in this volume, may be read as a correction to the erroneous view that form limits expression. The act of shaving is a form of human behavior that persists because we have arrived at no better way of removing the bristles from our faces. It takes on ritual significance because boys do not shave and men do. The ritual aspect of shaving implies a kind of passage, a handing down of the old ways, a growing into them. Growing older, the poet sees in his own reflection the image of the father he remembers.

“...from here on in, I’ll cut

Not just my own, but someone else’s cheek:
That stubbled cheek I kissed when I was eight.
Its beard is mine now.”

It is the very “formality” of the act of shaving, its series of repeated gestures the same for the son as for his father before him, that allows this insight into what is communicated from one generation to the next. We are reminded that one’s true place in human society is (in Burke’s phrase) “among the dead, the living, and those yet unborn––the community of souls.” Krisak writes, “We greet / The day in one another, realize / Our more-than-homely task...” How more-than-homely is the task of shaving, seen in this light, as form. The poem, of course, is written in form, in rhymed quatrains: thus its heightened expression.

Krisak’s acknowledgement of what a man inherits, especially if that man be a poet, is not limited to the one poem. The volume includes poems dedicated to three contemporary poets who write traditionalist verse, A. M. Juster, Timothy Steele, and Richard Wilbur. At its front is a dedication to a fourth master-poet and mentor, Rhina Espaillat. Krisak is a poet who does not take for granted the gift that makes him a poet, nor the many gifts of example or encouragement received along the way. Even As We Speak is a book replete with gratitude. Krisak’s respect for the craft of poetry, and for those who are skilled in that craft, is evident in everything he does, and he does so much: he is a true servant of the Muse, as his many fine translations included in this volume attest. Petrarch, Horace, Akhmatova, and others benefit by his literary energy. Even Samuel Johnson, that master of the English language, gets help from Len Krisak, as one of his poems written in Latin is translated here.

Begin there, on page 62, with the translation of Johnson’s Latin poem, “Skia.” No one will need suggest that you then begin again, at the beginning. ... Read more

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