Award Winners

2004 Frost Medalist

Richard Howard


Elementary Principles at Seventy-Two

     When we consider the stars
(what else can we do with them?) and even
recognize among them sidereal

     father-figures (it was our
consideration that arranged them so),
they will always outshine us, for we change.

     When we behold the water
(which cannot be held, for it keeps turning
into itself), that is how we would move—

     but water overruns us.
And when we aspire to be clad in fire
(for who would not put on such apparel?)

     the flames only pass us by—
it is a way they have of passing through.
But earth is another matter. Ask earth

     to take us, the last mother—
one womb we may reassume. Yes indeed,
we can have the earth. Earth will have us.




All rights reserved. Reprinted with the permission of the author.


Robert Frost, in speaking about the creation of "every work of art, not of cunning and craft, mind you," testified to the power of "believing the thing into existence, saying as you go more than you even hoped you were going to be able to say, and coming with surprise to an end that you foreknew only with some sort of emotion." Each poem of Richard Howard's has this element of spark and inherent drama, radiating his profound delight in—and absolute dedication to—the art he has practiced with perfect pitch for fifty years.

Ardor, scrupulosity, and supreme erudition characterize his long and dazzling life in letters. As poet, essayist, translator, editor, and incomparable teacher, he has enriched our culture and our reading lives and inspired thousands of students by the example of his bright unceasing labor and devotion to literature as a high, high calling.

On behalf of the Board of Governors of the Poetry Society of America, I am honored to award the 2004 Robert Frost Medal to this irreplaceable polymath who has been so pivotal and central a figure in American poetry from the mid-20th century forward.


All Winners

2022

Sharon Olds

2021

N. Scott Momaday

2020

Toi Derricotte

2019

Eleanor Wilner

2018

Ron Padgett

2017

Susan Howe

2016

Grace Schulman

2015

Kamau Brathwaite

2014

Gerald Stern

2013

Robert Bly

2011

Charles Simic

2001

Sonia Sanchez

2000

Anthony Hecht

1999

Barbara Guest

1998

Stanley Kunitz

1997

Josephine Jacobsen

1996

Richard Wilbur

1995

John Ashbery

1994

A. R. Ammons

1993

William Stafford

1992

Adrienne Rich
David Ignatow

1991

Donald Hall

1990

James Laughlin
Denise Levertov

1989

Gwendolyn Brooks

1988

Carolyn Kizer

1987

Sterling Brown
Robert Creeley

1986

Richard Eberhart
Allen Ginsberg

1985

Robert Penn Warren

1984

Jack Stadler

1976

A. M. Sullivan

1974

John Hall Wheelock

1971

Melville Cane

1967

Marianne Moore

1955

Leona Speyer

1952

Carl Sandburg

1951

Wallace Stevens

1947

Gustav Davidson

1943

Edna St. Vincent Millay

1942

Edgar Lee Masters

1941

Robert Frost