It’s the birthday of the poet Stanley Kunitz, (books by this author) born in Worcester, Massachusetts, in 1905. He attended Harvard University, where he wanted to teach in the English department, but he was told that Anglo-Saxon students wouldn’t want to be taught by a Jew. He said, “That almost broke my heart. And I think in the end it probably did me a great favor because it prevented me from becoming a completely preoccupied scholar.” He went on to work as a farmer, and he served in WWII when his conscientious objector status was denied.
Stanley Kunitz published his first book of poetry when he was 25, called Intellectual Things (1930), and he continued to write and publish for 75 years. In 2000, he published The Collected Poems of Stanley Kunitz, and that same year he was named poet laureate of the United States, when he was 95 years old, He died at age 100.
Stanley Kunitz said, “Poetry is inseparable from my life force, and that began very early. It was a great gift, and it has sustained me through the years, and the losses that have attended those years.”
He said, “The poem comes in the form of a blessing, like the rapture breaking through on the mind.”
And, “Old myths, old gods, old heroes have never died. They are only sleeping at the bottom of our mind, waiting for our call. We have need for them. They represent the wisdom of our race.”
July 30th is Stanley Kunitz's Birthday