[Purchase Kramer's works] Aaron Kramer (1921-1997)
Poet, translator, and literary critic
[Selected poems] [Archived Kramer materials]

Keillor recorded reading of Winter Song

Listen to the recording of Garrison Keillor reading an Aaron Kramer poem on The Writer's Almanac on Thursday, January 27, 2005. "The Writer's Almanac ® is a daily program of poetry and history hosted by Garrison Keillor...Each day's program is about five minutes long. Visit http://writersalmanac.publicradio.org . The poem is "Winter Song," anthologized in Wicked Times.


The new anthology, "Wicked Times: Selected Poems" (University of Illinois Press) brings together for the first time the best poetry of Aaron Kramer (1921-1997), considered by his co-editors to be one of America's "most compelling and accomplished poets." The book is the latest title in Illinois' American Poetry Recovery Series. Read the press release

July 2004: New from The University of Illinois Press

Wicked Times   Selected Poems of Aaron Kramer

Edited and with a Biographical Essay by Cary Nelson and Donald Gilzinger Jr.

Fifth section of "Astoria" sequence
Aaron Kramer

Come, all you who are not satisfied
as ruler in a lone, wallpapered room
full of mute birds, and flowers that falsely bloom,
and closets choked with dreams that long ago died!

Come, let us sweep the old streets--like a bride;
sweep out dead leaves with a relentless broom;
prepare for Spring, as though he were our groom
for whose light footstep eagerly we bide.

We'll sweep out shadows, where the rats long fed;
sweep out our shame--and in its place we'll make
a bower for love, a splendid marriage-bed
fragrant with flowers aquiver for the Spring.
And when he comes, our murdered dreams shall wake;
and when he comes, all the mute birds shall sing.

Aaron Kramer

"Prothalamium" opens Barbara Kingsolver's novel, Prodigal Summer (HarperCollins). The poem, which appeared in 1948 in Kramer's collection The Thunder of the Grass, was set to music by Michael Sahl and performed by Judy Collins on her 1970 recording "Whales and Nightingales."


Biography of Aaron Kramer

Poet, translator, and essayist, Aaron Kramer first gained national prominence with Seven Poets in Search of an Answer (1944) and The Poetry and Prose of Heinrich Heine (1948). He was a leading resistance poet throughout the McCarthy era with such texts for music as Denmark Vesey (1952) and such volumes as Roll the Forbidden Drums! (1954). In 1958 he collaborated with a dozen artists on The Tune of the Calliope: Poems and Drawings of New York. Professor of English at Dowling College, in Oakdale, New York from 1961, and a founding editor of West Hills Review: A Whitman Journal, he produced such scholarly works as The Prophetic Tradition in American Poetry (1968), Melville's Poetry: Toward the Enlarged Heart (1972), and Neglected Aspects of American Poetry (1997).

Also a noted translator, Kramer produced Rilke: Visions of Christ (1967); A Century of Yiddish Poetry (1989) which includes his 370 translations of 135 poets; All My Yesterdays Were Steps (1995), the selected poems of Dora Teitelboim; and The Last Lullaby: Poems of the Holocaust (1998). His 1975 translation of Viktor Ullmann and Peter Kien's opera, The Emperor of Atlantis, which they created in the Terezin concentration camp, continues in performance worldwide and is much recorded. Recent collections of his own poetry include The Burning Bush: Poems and Other Writings (1983), Indigo (1991), and Regrouping (1997). Volumes of his selected poetry have been published in Russian and Bulgarian.

Kramer was a popular public reader and radio guest across the United States, and he recorded for Folkways Records and the Library of Congress. He pioneered in the therapeutic use of poetry for the disabled, also contributing many articles to professional journals in the field. The Second First Art, a Festschrift in his honor, was published in 1996. He received his Ph.D. from New York University.

Request an Aaron Kramer poem or translation. (Not available at this time).

Bibliography compiled by Donald Gilzinger

Aaron Kramer's web page is maintained by Sue Gleason

Aaron Kramer's web page was designed by Georgia Gleason.

Contact literary executors for information regarding rare Kramer materials

Page updated March 17, 2006