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Richard Purdy Wilbur

Richard Purdy Wilbur

Poet: Richard Purdy Wilbur

Dates: 1 March 1921

Nationality: American

Title of Poem: Museum Piece

The good gray guardians of art
Patrol the halls on spongy shoes,
Impartially protective, though
Perhaps suspicious of Toulouse.

Here dozes one against the wall,
Disposed upon a funeral chair.
A Degas dancer pirouettes
Upon the parting of his hair.

See how she spins! The grace is there,
But strain as well is plain to see.
Degas loved the two together:
Beauty joined to energy.

Edgar Degas purchased once
A fine El Greco, which he kept
Against the wall beside his bed
To hang his pants on while he slept.


Brief Biography: Wilbur is a Pulitzer-prize winning poet and literary translator. He is part of the Formalism movement. Wilbur’s first published poem was when he was just 8 years old.