Saturday, 16 February 2013

Richard Eberhart

Richard Ghormley Eberhart (1904 – 2005) was an American poet who published more than a dozen books of poetry and approximately twenty works in total. He won the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry for Selected Poems, 1930-1965 and the 1977 National Book Award for Poetry for Collected Poems, 1930-1976.

Eberhart was born in 1904 in Austin, a small town in southeast Minnesota. Eberhart began college at the University of Minnesota, but following his mother's death from cancer in 1921—the event that prompted him to begin writing poetry—he transferred to Dartmouth College. After graduation he worked as a ship's hand, among other jobs, then studied at St. John's College, Cambridge, where I.A. Richards encouraged him to continue writing poetry, and where he took a further degree. Read more on Wikipedia

His first book of poetry A Bravery of Earth was published in London in 1930. It reflected his experiences in Cambridge and his experience as a ship's hand voyaging to the Far East similar to Lowry's 1927 voyage. It is possible that Lowry and Eberhart knew each other while they were both a Cambridge as they both published material in the Experiment magazine as well as Conrad Aiken knowing Eberhart. Eberhart published the following poems in the Experiment :

'For a Lamb', Experiment No. 4 (November 1929), poem, p. 19
'Fragments', Experiment No. 3 (May 1929), poem, p. 6
'Necessity', Experiment No. 5 (February 1930), poem, pp. 4 - 5
'Poem', Experiment No. 7 (Spring 1931), poem, p. 16
'Quern', Experiment No. 6 (October 1930), poem, p. 39
'Request for Offering', Experiment No. 2 (February 1929), poem, p. 23
'This Is', Experiment No. 3 (May 1929), poem, p. 44
'To Maia', Experiment No. 3 (May 1929), poem, p. 48

Lowry alludes to Eberhart's poem A Bravery of Earth published in 1930. In a letter Lowry wrote to John Davenport dated 27th October 1930; "The third - (Richard Ghormley Ebehart!), unamazed in meditation looked up from Persia - more likely sailing down the coast by Iloilo, Zamboanga, Sabang, anywhere, Eberhart Icarus at this time". (Collected Letters Vol 1 Pg. 73-74).

The references to Iloilo, Zamboanga, Sabang reoccur in Lowry's short story 'Goya The Obscure' and novel Ultramarine.There is no documentary evidence to suggest that Lowry visited Iloilo, Zamboanga or Sabang as part of his 1927 voyage to the Far East. It would appear that Lowry's mention of  these places is perhaps part of a youthful obsession with the "exotic East" also captured in Eberhart's poem A Bravery of Earth.

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