Book details

Late Romance

Anthony Hecht—A Poet's Life

Author: David Yezzi

Late Romance

Late Romance


About This Book

Anthony Hecht (1923-2004) was one of America’s greatest poets, winner of the Pulitzer Prize, and widely recognized as a master of formal verse that drew on wide-ranging cultural and literary sources,...

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Book Details

Anthony Hecht (1923-2004) was one of America’s greatest poets, winner of the Pulitzer Prize, and widely recognized as a master of formal verse that drew on wide-ranging cultural and literary sources, as well as Hecht’s experiences as a soldier during World War II, during which he fought in Germany and Czechoslovakia and helped to liberate the Flossenburg concentration camp.

In Late Romance, David Yezzi—himself a renowned poet and critic—reveals the depths that informed the meticulous surfaces of Hecht’s poems. Born to a wealthy German-Jewish family in Manhattan, Hecht saw his father lose nearly everything during the stock market crash of 1929. He grew into an accomplished athlete, actor, writer, and eventually a soldier in the crucible that consumed the world. Returning from the war, Hecht struggled to reconcile what he had witnessed and experienced, suffering from mental illness that required hospitalization. But he found the means to channel his emotions into poetry of lasting meaning, control, and depth; along with Robert Lowell, James Merrill, Theodore Roethke, and Elizabeth Bishop, Hecht remains a vital presence in letters.

Published to celebrate the 100th year of his birth, and to coincide with an edition of his collected poems (to be published by Knopf), Late Romance is the definitive, dramatic biography of a uniquely-gifted writer.

Imprint Publisher

St. Martin's Press



In The News

"Yezzi’s intimate knowledge of Hecht’s poetry informs a sympathetic, authoritative portrait. An artful, well-informed biography." - Kirkus starred review

"[A]n affectionate and meticulous biography... careful research, drawn from Hecht’s archives and letters and interviews with his friends, brings the poet to vivid life. This will stand as the definitive account of an influential American poet." - Publishers Weekly

"Now that almost twenty years have passed since Anthony Hecht died, the moment to recognize and come to terms with his achievements as a poet and critic might finally be upon us, and if it is—and I pray it is; we need the examples of great poets perhaps more than ever now, as we begin to forget the importance of both great poets and good poets—David Yezzi’s Late Romance will be the book that guides our considerations. It is a biography beyond which no further biography of Hecht need be written; it is comprehensive, judicious, insightful, and beautifully written, and I can’t wait to read it again."
—Shane McCrae, Whiting Award winning author of The Gilded Auction Block and Sometimes I Never Suffered

"David Yezzi’s biography of Anthony Hecht charts the complex life and haunted imagination of a brilliant poet. Yezzi’s account of Hecht’s experiences as a soldier in World War Two is especially moving and greatly deepens our understanding of Hecht's work. Late Romance is a book about a life dedicated to art, but it is also an essential exploration of the wider world of American poetry in the second half of the twentieth century, with superb portraits of figures such as Auden and Wilbur and Sexton."
—Colm Tóibín, author of The Master and Brooklyn

"How do poems come into being? David Yezzi honors that mystery, but by tracking closely the poet’s life, he invites us deep into Hecht’s darkling, grimly masterful poems. From an affluent but miserable childhood, through shocking experiences as a soldier in Germany in World War II and the liberation of the concentration camp at Flossenbürg, and then the vicissitudes of PTSD, a wretched first marriage, and depression, Hecht forged an oeuvre of severe and enduring authority, and, finally, a testimonial of love and joy. Yezzi is Hecht’s ideal reader and narrator."
—Rosanna Warren, author of Max Jacob: A Life in Art and Letters

"This is a moving, fine-grained telling, in one American life, of a great, repeated and essential story: the transformation by—and in some measure of—an art."
—Robert Pinsky, author of Gulf Music and At the Foundling Hospital

About the Creators

Late Romance

Late Romance