Sunday, March 29, 2015


Famous American writer [though she lived in Europe for large parts of her life] Edith Wharton [1862-1937] is an acquired taste. Her society-satirizing novels are about a very particular set of upper class aristocrats in the mid-1800s, and they can sometimes be hard to get into. In a sense, she 'teaches' a lesson in her novels, or at least points out some problems with the societal rules of that time period.

Her poetry, however, is a great way to get into pre-1800 verse. Here's one example, look here for more:
"Aeropagus" [from the Atlantic Monthly 45 (Mar. 1880): 335.]

WHERE suns chase suns in rhythmic dance,
Where seeds are springing from the dust,
Where mind sways mind with spirit-glance,
High court is held, and law is just.
No hill alone, a sovereign bar;
Through space the fiery sparks are whirled
That draw and cling, and shape a star, --
That burn and cool, and form a world
Whose hidden forces hear a voice
That leads them by a perfect plan:
"Obey," it cries, "with steadfast choice,
Law shall complete what law began.
"Refuse, -- behold the broken arc,
The sky of all its stars despoiled;
The new germ smothered in the dark,
The snow-pure soul with sin assoiled."

The voice still saith, "While atoms weave
Both world and soul for utmost joy,
Who sins must suffer, -- no reprieve;
The law that quickens must destroy."