Gerald Stern, Poet of Wistfulness, Anger and Humor, Dies at 97
Gerald Stern, one of the most brilliant literary minds of his generation, has died. He was 97.
His death was announced June 2 on the website for Poets & Writers Magazine.
Stern was born in Brooklyn on Aug. 26, 1918, into an artistic family that included visual artists Joseph and Robert Stern and writer and editor Ruth Mack Brunswick.
The fifth of nine children, Stern had attended the prestigious Friends School in Greenwich, where his brother was one of the founders. He continued his education at Queens College and the University of London, where he received his B.A. and M.A.
“I was always a writer,” he told the New York Times in a 1993 interview. “I always felt that I should have been a poet.”
He published his first book, Pomegranates for Sale, in 1940. In it, he wrote about the “greatest of all poetry”—the Bible—and how much of it is written in a “language which does not exist.”
He would later become involved in the literary defense of the Bible and a close friend of Cardinal John Henry Newman of England.
His love for music was apparent as early as his elementary school days. The poet W. H. Auden once described him as “an angel of good news.”
His sister, poet Mary Tuchman Stern, would recall that he was “one of the most brilliant writers to come out of this country in the last 50 years.”
As a young man, Stern was a lover of literature. A friend of the poet Ezra Pound, he once visited London for three days in 1946 to hear the composer Philip Glass play his music.
He was also a lifelong student of music. He taught himself to play the piano and once said of his early years, “I began to find myself, to see myself.”
When his first poem