Down to the Puritan marrow of my bonesI love this. This era—with Frost, Millay, and E. A. Robinson in the States (and Kipling and others in the UK) were writing—this is when English poetry hit its peak: a modern sensibility paired with a classic form. It surpasses the ornate decoration of earlier times while employing a technical skill that at the time was being busily abandoned by everyone else.
There’s something in this richness that I hate.
I love the look, austere, immaculate,
Of landscapes drawn in pearly monotones.
There’s something in my very blood that owns
Bare hills, cold silver on a sky of slate,
A thread of water, churned to milky spate
Streaming through slanted pastures fenced with stones.
I love those skies, thin blue or snowy gray,
Those fields sparse-planted, rendering meager sheaves;
That spring, briefer than apple-blossom’s breath,
Summer, so much too beautiful to stay;
Swift autumn, like a bonfire of leaves,
And sleepy winter, like the sleep of death.
There’s a stanza from another of Wylie’s poems that has been buzzing around in my head since I read it—from her poem “Let No Charitable Hope”:
In masks outrageous and austereIt somehow brings to mind William Ernest Henley (“Invictus”) and Dorothy Parker at the same time. As if those two could collaborate. I wonder if they would have gotten along.
The years go by in single file;
But none has merited my fear
And none has quite escaped my smile.
More reviews to come!