Lizette Woodworth Reese

(January 9, 1856 – December 17, 1935 / Waverly)

Lizette Woodworth Reese
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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). more »

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  • Rookie Linda Daywalt (5/14/2012 8:25:00 AM)

    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

  • Rookie Frieda Werden (12/18/2005 1:09:00 PM)

    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.

  • Rookie Frieda Werden (12/18/2005 12:04:00 PM)

    '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)

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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 ...

Read the full of Tears

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