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Poet Richard Eberhart dies at age 101

Pulitzer Prize-winner called poetry ‘a natural energy resource’
/ Source: The Associated Press

Richard Eberhart, a Pulitzer Prize-winning poet admired for mentoring generations of aspiring writers, has died at the age of 101. Eberhart died at his home Thursday after a short illness.

He wrote more than a dozen books of poetry and verse during a career that spanned more than 60 years. He received nearly every major book award that a poet can win, including the Pulitzer, which he received in 1966 for "Selected Poems, 1930-1965."

"Poetry is a natural energy resource of our country," he said in his 1977 acceptance speech for a National Book Award. "It has no energy crisis, possessing a potential that will last as long as the country. Its power is equal to that of any country in the world."

Jay Parini, a former colleague who teaches English at Middlebury College, called Eberhart "one of the finest American poets."

"He left behind a dozen poems that I think will be part of the permanent treasury of American poetry," Parini said.

Eberhart was an intensely lyrical poet, Parini said. Unafraid to ask fundamental questions, his poems explore dramatic issues of life and death.

"Poems in a way are spells against death," Eberhart once told the Concord Monitor. "They are milestones, to see where you were then from where you are now. To perpetuate your feelings, to establish them. If you have in any way touched the central heart of mankind's feelings, you'll survive."

Eberhart also was admired for encouraging young poets, including many at Dartmouth College, where he taught for nearly 30 years.

"He had a largess; it extended to himself, too," Cleopatra Mathis said. "He was a person who never tired of talking about poetry, never tired of bringing people who wanted to write poetry into the fold."

Eberhart is survived by a daughter, a son and six grandchildren.