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Charles Guenther Papers

Identifier: MS-MS-ms052

The Charles Guenther Papers includes correspondence, 1964-1970, principally between Guenther and Washington University library officials concerning the placing of Guenther's literary materials. Also included are original poems and poetry translation from the French and German and reprints or copies of selected published articles on E.E. Cummings, Pierre Francois Regnier, an address on poetry given at St. Louis University, and miscellany.


  • 1949-1984


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Conditions Governing Use

Users of the collection must read and agree to abide by the rules and procedures set forth in the Materials Use Policies.

Providing access to materials does not constitute permission to publish or otherwise authorize use. All publication not covered by fair use or other exceptions is restricted to those who have permission of the copyright holder, which may or may not be Washington University.

If you wish to publish or license Special Collections materials, please contact Special Collections to inquire about copyright status at (314) 935-5495 or (Publish means quotation in whole or in part in seminar or term papers, theses or dissertations, journal articles, monographs, books, digital forms, photographs, images, dramatic presentations, transcriptions, or any other form prepared for a limited or general public.)


1.00 boxes

Biographical Information

Charles Guenther was a poet, critic and translator. Born April 29, 1920 in St. Louis, Missouri, Guenther started writing and translating poetry at age 15 while a student at Roosevelt High School. Upon graduation at age 17, Guenther worked as a copy boy for the St. Louis Star-Times. He graduated from Harris Teachers College, earned a master’s degree at Webster College and did doctoral work in languages at St. Louis University. During World War II, Guenther translated information for the U.S. Army Air Corps, tracking such details as the opening and closing of foreign runways. He worked at various times as a historian, librarian and supervisory cartographer for the U.S. Air Force. He was employed at the Aeronautical Chart and Information Center of St. Louis for 30 years. Also, Guenther began writing literary reviews for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch in 1953, retiring from that position in 2003. He also wrote for the St. Louis Globe-Democratfrom 1972 to 1982.

In addition, Guenther taught creative writing and modern literature in St. Louis and at various writer's conferences and read his poetry to college and university audiences. He helped judge several American and international poetry contests and edited several now-defunct little magazines. For 15 years he served as Regional Midwest Vice-President for the Poetry Society of America.

Guenther translated thousands of poems into English from languages such as French, Italian, Spanish, Eskimo, Greek, German and Hungarian. In an essay entitled "Reflections," from the book Three Faces of Autumn, Guenther credits Ezra Pound as an early influence on his work. The two met in 1951 when Guenther visited Pound while he was incarcerated at St. Elizabeth’s Hospital in Washington, D.C. He translated into English from such varying poets as Edgar Degas, Paul Valéry, Pablo Neruda, Salvatore Quasimodo and Dante Alighieri. Guenther also extensively translated the works of Garcilaso de la Vega, Juan Ramón Jiménez, Jules Laforgue and Jean Wahl. Many poets were translated into English for the first time by Guenther.

In addition to his translations, Guenther wrote original formal and free verse poetry. His book, Phrase/Paraphrase (1970), was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize in Poetry. Most of his translations and poetry were published in literary publications, including The American Poetry Review, Black Mountain Review, The Formalist and The Kenyon Review. He died July 24, 2008.

Source of Acquisition

Accession number 1182. Gift of Charles Guenther, April 28, 1970

Accession number 1416. Gift of Charles Guenther, June 3, 1974

Accession number 1875. Gift of Charles Guenther, December 1990

Accession number 18750. Gift of Charles Guenther, October 17, 2003

Charles Guenther Papers
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Language of description

Revision Statements

  • 2021 April 23: Resource record updated in ArchiveSpace by Sarah Schnuriger.

Collecting Area Details

Part of the Manuscripts Collecting Area

Joel Minor
Olin Library, 1 Brookings Drive
MSC 1061-141-B
St. Louis MO 63130 US
(314) 935-5495