Edwin Honig, former Brown Professor and author of numerous collections of poetry, plays, criticism, and translations, namely of Fernando Pessoa, passed away last week after a battle with Alzheimer's disease. According to this article from The Providence Journal,

Honig once told former Providence Journal columnist Wanda Howard that he was 13 when an alert teacher at the high school he was attending in Brooklyn, N.Y., introduced him to poetry, putting him under the influence of such writers as Hart Crane, T.S. Eliot, and Gerard Manley Hopkins.

Thanks to his grandmother who spoke Spanish, Arabic and Yiddish but little English, he said, he also developed an intense lifelong interest in Spanish and Portuguese.

All together, he wrote 10 books of poetry, 3 plays, 5 books of criticism and 8 translations, one of the earliest of which was on Federico Garcia Lorca, the Spanish poet murdered by Franco’s fascists in Granada. It was published in 1944. Four decades, later he was knighted by the president of Portugal for helping to introduce Fernando Pessoa to the English-speaking world and was similarly honored in 1996 by the king of Spain for his translations of Spanish poets and playwrights.

Honig, who taught at Harvard University before going to Brown, received awards from the Guggenheim Foundation, the Mishkenot Sha’Ananim in Jerusalem, the National Endowment of the Arts and the Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters.

He would later compile nearly a half-century of his poems in a volume titled “Time and Again,” and was working on a second volume, “Over Time,” when he became ill.

In “To Restore a Dead Child,” he released decades of sorrow over the death of his 3-year-old brother who was run over by a truck when Honig was just 5.

One of Honig's collections of Pessoa translations can be found here.

Originally Published: May 31st, 2011