Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Review: She Walks in Beauty edited by Caroline Kennedy

Author: various, edited by Caroline Kennedy
Publisher Format: Voice (2011), Edition: 1, Hardcover, 352 pages
Subject:women and poetry
Genre: anthology of poetry
Source: originally, an epub download from public library; also my own shelves 
Recommended? - absolutely

When I was in catholic grade school, every year we had a small book entitled "Poems and Pictures".  In Baltimore, we pronounced it "Poims and pichers" but the learning outcomes were the same no matter what we called the book.  It was used to introduce us to the best and most memorable works of poetry and art, and was always one of my favorite subjects.

In she walks in beauty, Caroline Kennedy has given us a beautiful anthology of poems to illustrate the various phases of a woman's life:
  • Falling in Love
  • Making Love
  • Breaking Up
  • Marriage
  • Love Itself
  • Work
  • Beauty, Clothes and Things of this World
  • Motherhood
  • Silence and Solitude
  • Growing Up and Growing Old
  • Death and Grief

Each section begins with an essay by the editor in which she gives us an insight into her choices of the poems included to illustrate that particular phase.  Her essays are as inspiring as the poetry, and serve as a foundation to center the reader in the appropriate setting.  Her choices of poems are broad, deep, eclectic, and delightful.  There are excerpts from the Bible, sonnets from Shakespeare, poems from Greece, from medieval Europe, from modern America.  There are poems that rhyme and poems that don't; there are short poems and long poems; there are poems I remember from the days of "Poims and pichers" and others I've never heard of.

I first got this book as an epub download from the public library.  It was delightful to read in that format, but I knew almost instantly that I wanted my own copy so I could tuck pretty bookmarks, make margin notes, and otherwise make this book my own to be treasured, re-read, and eventually passed on to my daughter. I treated myself to a copy in Barnes and Noble last weekend while I was back in Baltimore.  It's an exquisite book both in content and layout, especially for those of us who, while we may have been classically educated, didn't study poetry extensively -- I was a math major!!!  It would make a perfect gift to any woman you love - mother, daughter, sister, wife, teacher, etc.  Definitely worth adding to your shelves.


  1. Very good idea. Although I'm not a great reader of poetry, I think I would like this anthology. Obviously, Caroline has inherited her mother's talent.


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