Daryl Hine, poet, translator, editor, dramatist (born 24 February 1936 in Burnaby, BC; died 20 August 2012 in Evanston, Illinois). Daryl Hine challenged the poetic status quo by embracing traditional poetic forms. He felt passionately about using sestinas, alexandrines, villanelles, and Sapphics along with a variety of metrical patterns with complicated rhyming schemes. A MacArthur Foundation Fellow and finalist for the Governor General’s Literary Award for Poetry, Daryl Hine created works about the present world and his experience of living using classical form and style.
First published as a tenager, Hine’s study of classics and philosophy at McGill University in Montréal shaped the themes and imagery of his poetry early on. In 1955, he self-published Five Poems, and two years later he followed with his still famous The Carnal and the Crane.With these two works, Hine was heralded as an important new voice in poetry. In his first major long poem, originally published privately, In and Out (1975/1989), Hine came out as gay and depicted his first lovers and his brush with organized religion. Writing in long, rhymed lines that read more like prose, he used witty wordplay to express the duality of love:
As I counted
my friends on my fingers, I numbered
my loves on my thumbs: they were double,
a man and a woman, of comfort,
respectively, and of despair.
The 1960s were a prolific and varied period of work for Hine: he wrote his only novel, The Prince of Darkness and Co., a stinging satire about a literary giant living on an exotic island, and worked as a translator and dramatist. Commissioned by the BBC for radio, his first play, A Mutual Flame (1961),was based on the life of Alcestis, a princess in ancient Greek mythology, and her husband King Admetus. Set in Montréal, Alcestis sacrifices her own life in order to bring her husband back from the dead. It was later followed by The Death of Seneca, produced in Chicago in 1968.
Serving as the editor at Poetry magazinefrom 1968–78, Hine published new poets as diverse as Margaret Atwood,David Ferry, and Robert Pinsky. In 1980, Hine was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship for his scholarship and creativity. This was followed by a 1986 MacArthur Foundation Grant.
Academic Festival Overtures (1985) completed the poetic memoir begun with In and Out.A long poem with sharp wit and deep compassion, Hine describes his first year of high school at the age of 14. Many of these moments unfold concurrently — the moment he learns the name of a handsome boy, his own personal confusion over love and how the forms of grammar, while by turns repressive and revelatory, provides him with a means of escape: “A way out of my painful, pubescent confusion, / A cast-iron, intellectual fire-escape.”
Daryl Hine’s first collection of lyric poems in 12 years appeared with Postscripts (1990). Richly descriptive, Hine adapts stunning scenes from the natural world: “Where landscapes look too beautiful for words / The wilderness excels at making scenes.” In 2007, Recollected Poems 1951–2004 appeared and then his most famous work, &: A Serial Poem.With over 300, 10-line poems, using domestic imagery and metaphor, Hine describes the nature of mortality, love and its disappearance with haunting accuracy: “Unless than in interstellar space there never was / Any vacuum so total as a devastated heart, / The human epitome of emptiness.” The collection took Hine nearly 10 years to create. It would be his final work published in his lifetime.
Following the death of his partner of more than 30 years, philosopher Samuel Todes, Daryl Hine lived as a near-recluse preparing his final manuscript A Reliquary and Other Poems (2013). Exploring aging and death, he returned to the double vision of his youth, hoping to glimpse what he was and what he had become:
The lost, loquacious seventeen-year-old,
And he will tell you again the mouldy tales he told
This too credulous solitary
Common scold, a literal truth fairy,
While his eyes beamed silver and his locks gleamed gold.
Regularly published in periodicals, including The Fiddlehead, The Malahat Review, The Paris Review,and the New Yorker, Daryl Hine’s work continues to reveal an imagination unbound by history or cultural eras, able to create art that is both vital and meaningful while renewing the aesthetic value of classic forms.
Hine believed that the translation of the classics was important to modern readers, giving the reader a doorway through which to enter a world that, in many ways, shaped their own. Hine’s most important translations are from Greek translation, notably including Theocritus: Idylls and Epigrams (1985) and Works of Hesiod and the Homeric Hymns (2005).
- The Prince of Darkness & Co. (novel, 1961)
- Polish Subtitles: Impressions from a Journey (non-fiction, 1962)
- Five Poems (1955)
- The Carnal and the Crane (1957)
- The Devil's Picture Book (1960)
- Heroics: Five Poems (1961)
- The Wooden Horse (1965)
- Minutes (1968)
- Resident Alien (1975)
- In and Out (1975)
- Daylight Saving (1978)
- Selected Poems (1980)
- Academic Festival Overtures (1985)
- Postscripts (1990)
- Recollected Poems: 1951–2004 (2007)
- &: A Serial Poem (2010)
- A Reliquary and Other Poems (2013)
- A Mutual Flame (radio play, 1961)
- The Death of Seneca (1968)
- Alcestis (radio play, 1972)
- The Homeric Hymns and the Battle of the Frogs and Mice (1972)
- Heinrich Heine:Selected Poems (1981)
- Theocritus: Idylls and Epigrams (1982)
- Ovid's Heroines: A Verse Translation of the Heroides (1991)
- Puerilities: Erotic Epigrams of The Greek Anthology (2001)
- Works of Hesiod and the Homeric Hymns (2005)