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Anthony Hecht (1923–2004)

Author of Collected Earlier Poems

30+ Works 696 Members 6 Reviews 9 Favorited

About the Author

Includes the name: Hecht Anthony

Image credit: My Poetic Side

Works by Anthony Hecht

Collected Earlier Poems (1990) 112 copies
Collected Later Poems (2003) 64 copies
The Transparent Man (1990) 49 copies
The Venetian Vespers: Poems (1979) 49 copies
The Hard Hours (1967) 42 copies
Millions of Strange Shadows (1977) 34 copies
Selected Poems (2011) 25 copies
Jiggery Pokery (1967) 23 copies

Associated Works

The Making of a Poem: A Norton Anthology of Poetic Forms (2000) — Contributor — 1,224 copies
Literature: An Introduction to Fiction, Poetry, and Drama (1995) — Contributor, some editions — 902 copies
The Vintage Book of Contemporary American Poetry (1990) — Contributor — 737 copies
A Pocket Book of Modern Verse (1954) — Contributor, some editions — 435 copies
Contemporary American Poetry (1962) — Contributor, some editions — 380 copies
180 More: Extraordinary Poems for Every Day (2005) — Contributor — 357 copies
Against Forgetting: Twentieth-Century Poetry of Witness (1993) — Contributor — 325 copies
The Faber Book of Modern Verse (1936) — Contributor, some editions — 283 copies
The Best American Poetry 2001 (2001) — Contributor — 219 copies
The Best American Poetry 2005 (2005) — Contributor — 172 copies
American Religious Poems: An Anthology (2006) — Contributor — 160 copies
The Best American Poetry 1998 (1998) — Contributor — 160 copies
The Best American Poetry 1995 (1995) — Contributor — 156 copies
Poets of World War II (2003) — Contributor — 133 copies
American Wits: An Anthology of Light Verse (2003) — Contributor — 131 copies
The Art of the Lathe (1998) — Introduction — 110 copies
Emergency Kit (1996) — Contributor, some editions — 107 copies
The State of the Language [1990] (1979) — Contributor — 89 copies
American Sonnets: An Anthology (2007) — Contributor — 64 copies
Half/Life: Jew-ish Tales from Interfaith Homes (2006) — Contributor — 51 copies
60 Years of American Poetry (1996) — Contributor — 28 copies
Masters of British Literature, Volume B (2007) — Contributor — 16 copies


20th century (105) American (101) American literature (101) American poetry (110) anthology (677) books (51) books about books (69) cats (24) collection (62) criticism (26) drama (40) English (26) essays (55) fiction (108) first edition (19) humor (20) language (25) Library of America (34) literary criticism (67) literature (248) LOA (23) modern (23) non-fiction (148) own (31) poems (43) poetics (40) poetry (2,141) poetry anthologies (19) poetry anthology (80) read (37) reading (28) reference (80) religion (18) short stories (39) textbook (68) to-read (111) unread (23) USA (18) writing (87) WWII (25)

Common Knowledge



Collection of examples of an amusing then-new ligh verse for, the double dactyl, which is still occasionally practiced.
antiquary | 3 other reviews | Nov 5, 2013 |
I had intended to post on Naguib Mahfouz's Palace of Desire today, but it sometimes seems that we live in a brilliant, unpredictable universe. And one support for that impression is that David and I received in the mail from a friend of ours who is a big proponent doggerel verse, a package containing Anthony Hecht's and John Hollander's Jiggery Pokery: a Compendium of Double Dactyls. Previously familiar with Hecht only as the author of the Matthew Arnold satire "Dover Bitch," I was pleasantly and hilariously surprised to make his acquaintance and that of Hollander in such verses as the following (by Hollander):



Benjamin Harrison,

Twenty-third President,

Was, and, as such,

Served between Clevelands, and

Save for this trivial


Didn't do much.

Or this one (by Hecht):



Mme. de Maintenon

Shouted, "Up yours!" when ap-

Proached for the rent,

And, in her anger, pro-

Ceeded to demonstrate,


Just what she meant.

Double dactyls have the following rules, as outlined by Hecht and Hollander (a dactyl, for those who don't know, is a three-syllable poetic foot with the first syllable stressed and the second two unstressed):

  • The poem is composed of two stanzas, each with three lines of two dactyls each followed by a fourth line that ends in a dactyl;

  • The first line must be a double dactyl of nonsense language;

  • The second line must be the name of the subject;

  • The final lines of the two stanzas must rhyme;

  • Somewhere in the second stanza there must be a line made up entirely of a single, double-dactylic word ("iconographically," for example).

Hecht and Hollander also argue that any six-syllable word, once used in a double dactyl, can never be used in a different one, although Wikipedia maintains that only hardcore double-dactyl purists still hold to this requirement. This seems like a lot of rules, but once you start reading these little gems your brain begins to incorporate them almost unconsciously; the double-dactyl line is extremely catchy.

And in fact, between the uproarious Introduction, the delightfully tongue-in-cheek footnotes, and the addictive poems themselves, Jiggery Pokery unexpectedly comandeered my entire afternoon. Of course, the side effect of reading sing-song dactylic verse for hours at a time is that the meter gets horribly stuck in one's head, and one starts noticing double dactyls all over the house and in one's normal speech. In the shower I found myself chanting "Birch bark and chammomile, / Deep Cleansing Wash," and both David and I keep bursting out with examples of promising six-syllable words apropos of nothing in particular. ("Sesquicentennial!" "Homogeneity!") Needless to say, the next stage was to begin composing our own examples; also needless to say, mine were all about books.


Fletteridge metteridge

Gabriel Betteridge

tells a romance with the

aid of Defoe;

The diamond's locational


somewhat assuaged by his

pipe and Bordeaux.

I imagine "discontinuity" has already been used, by someone somewhere in a double dactyl, but I don't specifically remember it from the book. Here's one on my recent reading:


Hop-a-lide, pop-a-lide,

Mike of the Mountainside

'way from his wife, to his

tower confined,

Erstwhile Bordelais


Aired his opinions, and

then changed his mind.

They are very addictive! And also surprisingly difficult. It's hard to find a good use for that single-word line when you have so few syllables to work with. Very fun, though. This last one is just about the dorkiest joke ever; the first time my friend Alan started talking about Austrian educational and agricultural innovator Rudolph Steiner (which Alan went through a phase of doing quite frequently), I mis-heard him with funny results.


Old Donji Kraljevec,

Kingdom of Hungary,

Offers a breakfast that's

truly advanced:

All of the produce grown


Waldorf school day care on

hand for the staff.

… (more)
3 vote
emily_morine | 3 other reviews | Jan 26, 2011 |
There can be no doubt: Anthony Hecht writes gorgeous lines, metrically perfect and full of satisfying assonances. He’s erudite and witty and his poems positively brim over with wonderful vignettes: speculation about the true fish-founder of America (a cod or herring, no doubt); elegant musings upon Venetian dogshit; funny, meticulous renderings of off-season grand hotels and their fading habitués. The poetry rolls out like a brocade, with nary a pulled thread to slow the reader. The effect of the book is somewhat geological: the slow and steady impact of accumulated detail. Hecht’s sentences are nearly endless, his vocabulary lapidary, his images patiently unfurled, his gaze sly and mirthful.

Still, this book failed to ignite anything in me beyond admiration. The poems impress but do not move or surprise. It’s a strange thing – I chalk it up to a complete lack of palate cleansing in a book that has the intensity of a rich dessert. There’s no room, amidst the dense ornament of the poems, to consider the flavour of the imagery. In fact, there is so much of everything that almost nothing can make an impact or truly resonate. These poems are the opposite of spare or aphoristic. Deploying a syntax weighty with adjectives and layered with extra (though sometimes lovely) clauses, Hecht continually flirts with grandiloquence. Added to that, he occasionally (and annoyingly) comes off as smugly superior. His “Application for a Grant” sneers at bartenders, politicians and athletes (“their brains squeezed out through their pores”) before ending on a falsely modest note about the poet’s humble ambitions.

The Venetian Vespers is certainly an accomplished book, with wit, insight and flawlessly modulated cadence, and it is worth a read. For talent, Hecht deserves a higher rating, but for overall effect, I think three stars is fair. For readers who enjoy closely observed long poems, however, this book may rate higher.
… (more)
1 vote
cocoafiend | Sep 15, 2010 |
Anthony Hecht is a very fine craftsman. Formally, his poems are inventive and carefully polished. Especially impressive is his accomplishment with somewhat complicated rhyme schemes, which frequently leads to sonic effects that are truly magical. This was his third collection in as many decades, and this demonstrates, if nothing else, a deep commitment to "getting it right". And yet, while I cannot help but admire his professional aesthetic, his wide scope of allusion, the comprehensive learning he demonstrates again and again, and his tonal range, I must say that relatively few of these poems stimulate what Vladimir Nabokov described as the "indescribable tingle of the spine" that signals the highest pleasure that literature has to offer. That said, Hecht does accomplish this on occasion, at least for me, in such poems as "Peripeteia", "The Lull", "A Birthday Poem", and, particularly, "Coming Home (from the journals of John Clare)". This is very far from a small achievement.… (more)
jburlinson | Nov 11, 2007 |



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