Born in Long Branch, New Jersey, Robert Pinsky was educated at Rutgers University and Stanford University. In California, he worked with poet-critic Ivor Winters and earned a Ph.D. He has taught at several schools, translated Dante's Inferno, and published both criticism and poetry. Pinsky generally uses regular stanzas and traditional forms, modifying them when he wishes. He has drawn both from his own experience and, as with "The Unseen" and "Shirt," from modern history, balancing a will to reason with spiritual inclinations.