richard wilbur

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Richard Wilbur

Today's poet of the day is out Poet Laureate from 1987, Richard Wilbur, and his poem The Death of a Toad.

richard wilbur death of a toad

When I first read this poem, my thought was that it is the original hashtag: white people problems. The poets of this literary period were interested with bringing back the formal structure of poetry. As I discussed in my post about Claude McKay, structure sends a big message regarding the poet's attitude.

To me, this poem is a bit sarcastic. The obituary-like style of the poem is almost over the top. It's like Richard Wilbur is making fun of the reader, or the person who ran the toad over with the lawn mower. This is what got me thinking about the trendy 'hashtag: white people problems' that swept the interwebs some time ago. Where the poets of previous generations wrote about injustice and prejudice, Richard Wilbur picked at the entitlement of the surging middle class. It just always struck me as a bit tongue-in-cheek the way Richard Wilbur described the scene. This person ran over a toad, and now, a whole eulogy ensues. I can't think of a way to showcase his privilege more.

Let me know what you think!