Ben Belitt

Ben Belitt (1911-2003). Courtesy Encyclopedia of Virginia.

Ben Belitt
Born May 2, 1911(1911-Template:MONTHNUMBER-02)
New York City, New York
Died August 17, 2003(2003-Template:MONTHNUMBER-17) (aged 92)
Occupation Poet, translator

Ben Belitt (May 2, 1911 - August 17, 2003) was an American poet and translator.


Youth and education Edit

Belitt was born Sam Belitt in New York City. He was educated at the University of Virginia, earning a B.A. in 1932 and an M.A. in 1934, and he was a doctoral student at that university from 1934 to 1936.

Career Edit

By the early 1940s he had taken up an appointment at Bennington College in Bennington, Vermont, where he remained for the rest of his life. A bachelor, he became a good friend of dancer (and fellow teacher at Bennington) Bill Bales; his wife, actress Jo Van Fleet; and their son, Michael Bales. Belitt regularly spent the important holidays of the year with this family at Bennington or in New York City.

Belitt was the author of 8 books of poems; his complete poems, This Scribe, My Hand, was published in 1998 by Louisiana State University Press. He also translated several books of poetry by Pablo Neruda and Federico García Lorca from Spanish to English.[1][2] [1] He wrote two books of essays and over thirteen books of translations.

He taught for many decades at Bennington College. After retiring from Bennington College, he continued to live in North Bennington and held the position of Professor Emeritus of Language and Literature at the college. He died in Bennington on August 17, 2003, at the age of 92 and was buried in Manchester, Vermont.


Belitt shared the Shelley Memorial Award for Poetry for 1936-1937 with Charlotte Wilder.

The 1962 ballet A Look at Lightning, by the American choreographer Martha Graham, was titled after a poem by Belitt. Errand into the Maze, also by Graham, takes its title from a Belitt poem as well.

His papers are held by the University of Virginia.[1]



  • The Five-Fold Mesh. New York: Knopf, 1938.
  • Wilderness Stair: Poems, 1938-1954. New York: Grove Press, 1955.
  • The Enemy of Joy: New and selected poems. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1964.
  • Nowhere But Light: Poems, 1964-1969. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1970.
  • The Double Witness: Poems, 1970-1976. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press , 1977.
  • Possessions: New and selected poems, 1938-1985. Boston: D.R. Godine, 1986.
  • Graffiti (designed & illustrated by Debra Weier). Easthampton, NY: Emanon Press, 1989.
  • This Scribe, My Hand: Complete poems. Baton Rouge, LA: Louisiana State University Press, 1998. ISBN 0-8071-2324-2 ISBN 0-8071-2323-4


  • Four Poems by Rimbaud: The problem of translation. Alan Swallow, 1947.
  • Adam’s Dream: A preface to translation (essays). New York: Grove, 1978.
  • The Forged Feature: Toward a poetics of uncertainty: New and selected essays. New York: Fordham University Press, 1995.


  • (and edited) F. Garcia Lorca, Poet in New York. New York: Grove, 1955.
  • (and edited) Pablo Neruda, Selected Poems of Pablo Neruda (introduction by Luis Monguio). New York: Grove, 1961.
  • (and edited) Antonio Machado, Juan de Mairena. University of California Press, 1963.
  • (and edited) Rafael Alberti, Selected Poems of Rafael Alberti. University of California Press, 1966.
  • (contributor) Jorge Guillen, Cantico (edited by N.T. DiGiovanni). Little, Brown, 1965.
  • Pablo Neruda, Poems from the Canto General. Racolin, 1968.
  • (with Alastair Reid, and edited) Neruda: A new decade: Poems, 1958-1967. New York: Grove, 1969.
  • (and edited) Pablo Neruda, Neruda, New poems: 1968-1970. New York: Grove, 1972.
  • (and edited) Pablo Neruda, Splendor and Death of Joaquin Murieta (play). Farrar, Straus, 1972.
  • Rafael Alberti, A la pintura. Universal Limited Art Editions, 1972.
  • (contributor) Jorge Luis Borges: Selected Poems (edited by N.T. DiGiovanni). Delacorte, 1972.
  • (and edited) Neruda, Five Decades: Poems, 1925-1970. New York: Grove, 1974.
  • Pablo Neruda, Skystones (translation of Piedras del cielo). Emanon Press, 1981.
  • F. Garcia Lorca, The New York Poems: Poet in New York  / Earth and Moon. New York: Grove, 1982.
  • (and edited) Pablo Neruda, Late and posthumous poems, 1968-1974 (introduction by Manuel Duran). New York: Grove, 1988.

Except where noted, bibliographical information courtesy the Poetry Foundation.[3]

Audio / videoEdit

"Ode on Ironing," by Pablo Neruda

"Ode on Ironing," by Pablo Neruda

  • The Poetry of Ben Belitt (cassette). Recorded at the Poetry Center of the New York YM-YWHA in November 1965. Audio Forum series. New York: Jeffrey Norton, [1965?]

See alsoEdit


  1. 1.0 1.1 In Memoriam
  2. Latin American Titles in English
  3. Ben Belitt 1911-2003, Poetry Foundation, Web, Aug. 6, 2012.

External linksEdit

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