Edith Wharton is best known for her novels, and her poetry is not mentioned often. The Age of Innocence earned the Pulitzer Prize in 1921 and made her the first woman to hold that honor. From a young age, she wrote poetry and mastered the sonnet as a young teen. Her early style reflects the Romantic Era, although more in tune with the works of man than nature. Her travels in Europe and especially Greece inspired spectacular verse. Like the Romantics, she was also intrigued by the supernatural, death, and Christianity. These themes also play a role in her writing. Her poetry does take a sharp turn after experiencing the First World War. Like many who fought, she is first taken in by the need ”to save civilization.” Soon, however, the death and loss of loved ones takes a toll on her and her writing. A reader following along chronologically instead on by topics as this book is arranged will notice the change of tone. The vividness and innocence of the world have faded or is lost. One often reads of the loss of innocence the war brought on, but to witness it in writing is moving. An excellent collection from a well-known writer and unfortunately a lesser known poet.
This collection is edited by Irene Goldman-Price and will be available July 9, 2019, from Scribner.