from Modern American Poetry, edited by Louis Untermeyer, Third Edition (Harcourt Brace, 1925) the The Wild Cherry (The Norman Remington Comany, 1922)
These poems by Lizette Woodworth Reese are drawn from an old Untermeyer anthology (Modern American Poetry and from her 1922 book The Wild Cherry. Untermeyer brought out new versions of this every few years from 1919 until the 1940's, any one of which is a treasure. The M.A.P. (a perfect acronym for this brilliant series) anthologies included both metrical and free verse for most of the lifetime of the series. Untermeyer was particularly taken in the third edition by LizetteWoodworth Reese (1856-1935), a poet of the countryside, whose clear eye helped push that genre away from its sentimentality toward what Frost began to do in the second decade of this century, and suggested the direction of formal verse taken by both Teasdale and Millay.
Tears by Lizette Woodworth Reese
1891 When I consider Life and its few years -- A wisp of fog betwixt us and the sun; A call to battle, and the battle done Ere the last echo dies within our ears; A rose choked in the grass; an hour of fears; The gusts that past a darkening shore do beat; The burst of music down an unlistening street,-- I wonder at the idleness of tears. Ye old, old dead, and ye of yesternight Chieftains, and bards, and keepers of the sheep By every cup of sorrow that you had, Loose me from tears, and make me see aright How each hath back at once he stayed to weep: Homer his sight, David his little lad!
A Puritan Lady by Lizette Woodworth Reese (1920)
Wild Carthage held her, Rome, Sidon. She stared to tears Tall, golden Helen, wearying Behind the Trojan spears. Towered Antwerp knew her well; She wore her quiet gown In some hushed house in Oxford grass, Or lane in Salem town. Humble and high in one, Cool, certain, different, She lasts; scarce saint, yet half a child, As hard, as innocent. What grave, long afternoons, What caged airs round her blown, Stripped her of humor, left her bare As cloud, or wayside stone? Made her as clear a thing, In this slack world as plain As a white flower on a grave, Or sleet sharp at a pane? Lizette Woodworth Reese The Fog by Lizette Woodworth Reese (1922) What grave has cracked and let this frail thing out, To press its poor face to the window-pane; Or, head hidden in frayed cloak, to drift about The mallow bush, then out to the wet lane? Long-closeted scents across the drippings break, Of violet petunias blowing there, A shred of mint, mixed with whatever ache Old springs have left behind wedged tight in air. Small, aged things peer in, ready to slip Into the chairs, and watch and stare apace; The house has loosened from its grasp of yore Dark-hoarded tales. Were I, finger on lip, To climb the stair, might I not find the place Turned all to huddled shape, white on the floor?
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