Lizette Woodworth Reese

Lizette Woodworth Reese Biography

Born in the Waverly section of Baltimore, Maryland, she was a school teacher from 1873 to 1918 at the Western High School in Baltimore. During the 1920s, she became a prominent literary figure, receiving critical praise and recognition, in particular from H. L. Mencken, himself from Baltimore.

Her poetry, remarkable for its intensity and concision, has been compared to that of Emily Dickinson. She is probably best remembered for the sonnet "Tears." Her volumes of poetry include A Branch of May (1887), A Handful of Lavender (1891), A Quiet Road (1896), Spicewood (1920), and Selected Poems (1926).

The Best Poem Of Lizette Woodworth Reese

Tears

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 what once he stayed to weep:
Homer his sight, David his little lad!

Lizette Woodworth Reese Comments

Suzanne 24 October 2018

Read TEARS, for the line about music

1 0 Reply
Linda Daywalt 14 May 2012

I am looking for a poem by Lizette Reese that includes these phrases describing life: -a blast of music down an unlistening street -a flight of uncarpeted stairs Can someone direct me to this poem? Linda

1 1 Reply
Frieda Werden 18 December 2005

After reading the poems on this site, I think there must be others of hers that are better and less sentimental - otherwise I can't believe an old atheist cynic like Mencken would be so fond of her.

2 4 Reply
Frieda Werden 18 December 2005

'Lizette Woodworth Reese...has written more sound poetry, more genuinely eloquent and beautiful poetry, than all the New Poets put together - more than a whole posse of Masterses and Lindays, more than a hundred Amy Lowells.' -H.L. Mencken, in 'The New Poetry Movement' (found in the book: Prejudices, First Series, published in 1919 by Knopf)

5 1 Reply

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