Poet, critic, and editor Rolfe Humphries was born in Philadelphia in 1894. He earned a BA at Amherst College and was a mentor to poet Theodore Roethke and friends with the writers Louise Bogan and Edmund Wilson.
Interested in Welsh formal constraints, Humphries explored loss and the natural world. He wrote six collections of poetry, including Europa and Other Poems and Sonnets (1929), The Summer Landscape (1945), Poems: Collected and New (1954), and Green Armor on Green Ground (1956), which was a finalist for the National Book Award. He translated Federico García Lorca’s The Poet in New York (1940), Virgil’s Aeneid (1951), Ovid’s Metamorphoses (1960), and Lucretius’s On the Nature of Things (1969), which was a finalist for the National Book Award. His correspondence is gathered in Poets, Poetics, and Politics: America’s Literary Community Viewed from the Letters of Rolfe Humphries, 1910–1969 (1992).
Humphries’s honors included fellowships from the John S. Guggenheim Memorial Foundation and the Academy of American Poets. Humphries taught high-school Latin for 30 years before returning to teach at his alma mater. He died in Redwood City, California, in 1969. The Amherst College Archives and the Stanford University library hold selections of his papers. Amherst College awards the Rolfe Humphries Poetry Prize in his honor.