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Best Famous Edith Wharton Poems

Here is a collection of the all-time best famous Edith Wharton poems. This is a select list of the best famous Edith Wharton poetry. Reading, writing, and enjoying famous Edith Wharton poetry (as well as classical and contemporary poems) is a great past time. These top poems are the best examples of Edith Wharton poems.

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by Edith Wharton |

Chartres

 I

Immense, august, like some Titanic bloom,
 The mighty choir unfolds its lithic core,
Petalled with panes of azure, gules and or,
 Splendidly lambent in the Gothic gloom,
And stamened with keen flamelets that illume
 The pale high-alter. On the prayer-worn floor,
By worshippers innumerous thronged of yore,
 A few brown crones, familiars of the tomb,
The stranded driftwood of Faith's ebbing sea--
 For these alone the finials fret the skies,
The topmost bosses shake their blossoms free,
 While from the triple portals, with grave eyes,
Tranquil, and fixed upon eternity,
 The cloud of witnesses still testifies.

II

The crimson panes like blood-drops stigmatise
 The western floor. The aisles are mute and cold.
A rigid fetich in her robe of gold,
 The Virgin of the Pillar, with blank eyes,
Enthroned beneath her votive canopies,
 Gathers a meagre remnant to her fold.
The rest is solitude; the church, grown old,
 Stands stark and grey beneath the burning skies.
Well-nigh again its mighty framework grows
 To be a part of nature's self, withdrawn
From hot humanity's impatient woes;
 The floor is ridged like some rude mountain lawn,
And in the east one giant window shows
 The roseate coldness of an Alp at dawn.


by Edith Wharton |

An Autumn Sunset

 I

Leaguered in fire
The wild black promontories of the coast extend
Their savage silhouettes;
The sun in universal carnage sets,
And, halting higher,
The motionless storm-clouds mass their sullen threats,
Like an advancing mob in sword-points penned,
That, balked, yet stands at bay.
Mid-zenith hangs the fascinated day
In wind-lustrated hollows crystalline,
A wan Valkyrie whose wide pinions shine
Across the ensanguined ruins of the fray,
And in her hand swings high o'erhead,
Above the waste of war,
The silver torch-light of the evening star
Wherewith to search the faces of the dead.

II

Lagooned in gold,
Seem not those jetty promontories rather
The outposts of some ancient land forlorn,
Uncomforted of morn, Where old oblivions gather,
The melancholy unconsoling fold
Of all things that go utterly to death
And mix no more, no more
With life's perpetually awakening breath?
Shall Time not ferry me to such a shore,
Over such sailless seas,
To walk with hope's slain importunities
In miserable marriage? Nay, shall not
All things be there forgot,
Save the sea's golden barrier and the black
Close-crouching promontories?
Dead to all shames, forgotten of all glories,
Shall I not wander there, a shadow's shade,
A spectre self-destroyed,
So purged of all remembrance and sucked back
Into the primal void,
That should we on that shore phantasmal meet
I should not know the coming of your feet?


by Erica Jong |

Henry James in the Heart of the City

 We have a small sculpture of Henry James on our terrace in New York City.

Nothing would surprise him.
The beast in the jungle was what he saw--
Edith Wharton's obfuscating older brother. . .

He fled the demons
of Manhattan
for fear they would devour
his inner ones
(the ones who wrote the books)
& silence the stifled screams
of his protagonists.

To Europe
like a wandering Jew--
WASP that he was--
but with the Jew's
outsider's hunger. . .

face pressed up
to the glass of sex
refusing every passion
but the passion to write
the words grew
more & more complex
& convoluted
until they utterly imprisoned him
in their fairytale brambles.

Language for me
is meant to be
a transparency,
clear water gleaming
under a covered bridge. . .
I love his spiritual sister
because she snatched clarity
from her murky history.

Tormented New Yorkers both,
but she journeyed
to the heart of light--
did he?

She took her friends on one last voyage,
through the isles of Greece
on a yacht chartered with her royalties--
a rich girl proud to be making her own money.

The light of the Middle Sea
was what she sought.
All denizens
of this demonic city caught
between pitch and black
long for the light.

But she found it
in a few of her books. . .
while Henry James
discovered
what he had probably
started with:
that beast, that jungle,
that solipsistic scream.

He did not join her
on that final cruise.
(He was on his own final cruise).
Did he want to?
I would wager yes.

I look back with love and sorrow
at them both--
dear teachers--
but she shines like Miss Liberty
to Emma Lazarus' hordes,
while he gazes within,
always, at his own
impenetrable jungle.