Essays and Reviews – Elinor Wylie

August and Exquisite


elinor wilieTALK about poetry is very likely to be futile, especially in a time when there is so much confused discussion of the subject as now. False poetry remains such in spite of any din that may be raised about it and the best thing to do about genuine poetry is to appreciate it.

However, good news should be passed on, and that is the modest purpose of these remarks. Elinor Wylie’s last volume of verse will appear within a few days, and it may be described in two words — august and exquisite. The poems included were chosen by the author herself the day before she died during last December.

The volume opens with a sequence of 19 sonnets, entitled “One Person.” Twenty miscellaneous poems complete the collection, and there is scarcely an uninspired page in the book. Two poems rise well above the high level of the volume — “Hymn to Earth” and “This Corruptible.” Often it seems especially in the poems just mentioned, that the author must have been aware of her approaching death, and the title of one of her lesser lyrics, “Farewell Sweet Dust,” might well have been the title of the book.