By DONNA URSCHEL
Richard Eberhart, Library of Congress Consultant in Poetry from 1959 to 1961, died June 9, 2005, at the age of 101.
During his two years at the Library, Eberhart energetically carried out his duties as Consultant in Poetry. He persuaded 90 poets to read their own works for the Library's Archive of Recorded Poetry and Literature. In addition to his own poetry readings at the Library, he conducted a number of seminars for Washington-area high school students, served on the President's Advisory Committee on the Arts, found time to lecture at a number of colleges and universities and continued his own creative work as a poet. His "Collected Poems, 1930-1960" appeared in the fall of 1960.
Eberhart's tenure at the Library occurred while he was on leave from his position of professor of English and Poet in Residence at Dartmouth College. According to the 1961 Library of Congress Annual Report, he considered the consultantship a worthwhile experience. Eberhart, one of the major voices of lyric poetry in the 20th century, said, "I came here with a high respect for the Library and I leave the Library with an even higher regard for its seriousness of purpose, excellence of work accomplished, its efficiency and its continuous quality of cooperation. It has been a rewarding professional and personal experience to have served the Library of Congress as one of its Consultants in Poetry. That I shall not forget it is an understatement. Indeed, I shall prize every day spent here in memory, regretting only that these two exciting years have passed so quickly."
Born on April 5, 1904, in Austin, Minn., Eberhart grew up on his family's 40-acre estate, Burr Oaks, and his sixth volume of poetry in 1947 was titled "Burr Oaks." When Eberhart was 18, his mother died of cancer, and shortly afterward, his father, who had been a successful businessman, lost his fortune. Eberhart would later say that these two events helped make him a poet.
After Eberhart earned a bachelor's degree from Dartmouth College in 1926, he traveled the world, working as a crewman on a tramp steamer, then stopped in England to earn a second bachelor's degree from Cambridge University in 1929. Shortly after his return, he was recruited to serve for a year as the tutor to the crown prince of Siam (now Thailand). He worked for a number of years in the business world, but returned to teaching in the early 1950s, serving as a lecturer and professor at several universities. In 1956, Eberhart was appointed professor of English and poet-in-residence at Dartmouth College, where he taught until the mid-1980s. The author of more than a dozen books of verse, he won the Pulitzer Prize in 1966 for "Selected Poems, 1930-1965" and a National Book Award in 1977 for "Collected Poems, 1930-1976."
Donna Urschel is a public affairs specialist in the Public Affairs Office.