Award-winning songwriter Gerald Stern dies at 97 on thrusday

New Jersey's first poet laureate died on Thursday at Calvary Hospice in New York City, according to her longtime partner, Anne Marie Macri.

A Confession from Macri, publisher W.W. Norton did not include the causes of death.

Winner of the 1998 National Book Award for the anthology "This Time", the bald, round-eyed Stern was sometimes mistaken personally for Allen Ginsberg

He is often compared to Walt Whitman due to his lyrical and sensual style and his gift of marriage to the physical world to the greater universe.

Stern was shaped by the rough, urban environment of his native Pittsburgh, but also identified himself with nature and animals

One marvels at the "power" of a maple tree, comparing itself to hummingbirds or squirrels, or finding the "secret of life" in a dead animal on the street.

A lifelong agnostic who also believed in "the Jewish idea", the poet wrote more than a dozen books.

Described itself as "part comedy, satire part idealistic,colored in irony,riddled with ridicule".

He regarded "The One Thing in Life" as the poem that best defined him, from his 1977 collection "Lucky Life".