Robert Silliman Hillyer (June 3, 1895 – December 24, 1961) was an American poet.


Hillyer was born in East Orange, New Jersey. He attended Kent School in Kent, Connecticut, and graduated from Harvard in 1917, after which he went to France and volunteered with the S.S.U. 60 of the Norton-Harjes Ambulance Corps serving the Allied Forces in World War I. He had long links to Harvard University, including holding a position as a Professor of English.

From 1948 to 1951 Hillyer was a visiting professor at Kenyon College and from there went to serve on the faculty at the University of Delaware. [2]

While teaching at Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut in the late 1920s, Hillyer was made a member of the Epsilon chapter of the prestigious St. Anthony Hall Delta Psi literary fraternity in 1927.

His work is in meter and often rhyme. He is known for his sonnets and for such poems as "Theme and Variations" (on his war experiences) and the light "Letter to Robert Frost ".

American composer Ned Rorem's most famous art song is a setting of Hillyer's "Early in the Morning".

Hillyer is remembered as a kind of villain by Ezra Pound scholars, who associate him with his 1949 attacks on The Pisan Cantos in the Saturday Review of Literature which sparked the Bollingen Controversy.

Hillyer was identified with the Harvard Aesthetes grouping.

He was 66 when he died in Wilmington, Delaware. [2]




  • The Collected Poems . Knopf. 1961.
  • The relic & other poems . Knopf. 1957.
  • The suburb by the sea: new poems . Knopf. 1952.
  • The death of Captain Nemo: a narrative poem . A.A. Knopf. 1949.
  • Poems for music, 1917–1947 . A. A. Knopf. 1947.
  • The Collected Verse of Robert Hillyer . A.A. Knopf. 1933.
  • The Coming Forth by Day: An Anthology of Poems from the Egyptian Book of the Dead . B.J. Brimmer Company. 1923.
  • Hillyer, Robert (1920). . Illustrator Beatrice Stevens. Kessinger Publishing, LLC.
  • Hillyer, Robert (1920). . Brentano's.
  • Hillyer, Robert (1917). . Harvard University Press.
  • Hillyer, Robert (1917). . Harvard University Press.


  • Riverhead (1932)


  • In Pursuit of Poetry . McGraw-Hill. 1960.
  • First Principles of Verse . The Writer. 1950.


  • Oluf Friis (1922). . Translators Samuel Foster Damon, Robert Hillyer. The American-Scandinavian Foundation.


  • Kahlil Gibran (1959). Hayim Musa Nahmad, Robert Hillyer, ed. A Tear and a Smile . A. A. Knopf.
  • Samuel Foster Damon, Robert Hillyer, ed. (1923). Eight More Harvard Poets . Brentano's.

See also