Submission Guidelines: Send unpublished poems in the body of an email (NO ATTACHMENTS) to nvneditor[at] No simultaneous submissions. Use "Verse News Submission" as the subject line. Send a brief bio. No payment. Authors retain all rights after 1st-time appearance here. Scroll down the right sidebar for the fine print.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008


on the occasion of the 45th anniversary of his death,
January 29, 1963

by Earl J. Wilcox

In the forty-five years since you gave us up,
Your lover’s quarrel with the world still resonates.

What a quarrel you had, living through all those wars,
---Count ‘em. Must have been at least a half dozen

In your time---yet you used your trial by existence to
Show faith in mankind, not be all politics. Oh, we

Recall your happy trip to Russia, your predicting JFK
Would win, then writing a poem for his inaugural,

Even if you didn’t read that one the day he was sworn in.
And yet we can say the political poems did not overtake you,

You with all those Pulitzers, but not the big prize.
I know you understood that in choosing the road less

Traveled you probably gave up the big prize. Did you
Know that almost every poet, indeed every writer since

Your death, has tapped into the grapes of wrath we all
Share about wars and famine and greed and big government

To write about it in order to dynamite the judges for the big prize.
You might smile to hear that Derek, Joseph, and Seamus

Did not shy away from the politics of their day, their own
Wars, which by and large were more violent and fanatic

Than yours, yet they were just wars and famine and
Political points of view. And they, yes, they did get the big prize.

Good for them. By the way, they wrote a little book* paying
Homage to you as a major influence on their poems.

Under the oaks and birches at the church in Old Bennington,
During this particular political season, your quarrel with

The world remains in play. Some of us read your poems
Every day, talk about them, teach them to others.

We miss your wit and wisdom, but especially your poems.
In another forty-five years we’ll miss you even more.

*Joseph Brodsky, Derek Walcott, Seamus Heaney, Homage to Robert Frost (New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1996).

Earl J. Wilcox founded The Robert Frost Review, which he edited for more than a decade. His poetry was recently nominated for a Pushcart Prize.