She Walks in Beauty: A Woman's Journey through Poems

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In She Walks in Beauty, Caroline Kennedy has once again marshaled the gifts of our greatest poets to pay a very personal tribute to the human experience, this time to the complex and fascinating subject of womanhood. Inspired by her own reflections on more than fifty years of life as a young girl, a woman, a wife, and a mother, She Walks in Beauty draws on poetry’s eloquent wisdom to ponder the many joys and challenges of being a woman. Kennedy has divided the collection into sections that signify to her the most...
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Overview

In She Walks in Beauty, Caroline Kennedy has once again marshaled the gifts of our greatest poets to pay a very personal tribute to the human experience, this time to the complex and fascinating subject of womanhood. Inspired by her own reflections on more than fifty years of life as a young girl, a woman, a wife, and a mother, She Walks in Beauty draws on poetry’s eloquent wisdom to ponder the many joys and challenges of being a woman. Kennedy has divided the collection into sections that signify to her the most notable milestones, passages, and universal experiences in a woman’s life, and she begins each of these sections with an introduction in which she explores and celebrates the most important elements of life’s journey.

The collection includes works by Elizabeth Bishop, Sharon Olds, Edna St. Vincent Millay, Mary Oliver, Pablo Neruda, W. H. Auden, Adrienne Rich, Sandra Cisneros, Anne Sexton, W. S. Merwin, Dorothy Parker, Queen Elizabeth I, Lucille Clifton, Naomi Shahib Nye, and W. B. Yeats. Whether it’s falling in love, breaking up, friendship, marriage, motherhood, or growing old, She Walks in Beauty is a priceless resource for anyone, male or female, who wants a deeper understanding and appreciation of what it means to be a woman.

She walks in beauty
George Gordon, Lord Byron

I

She walks in beauty, like the night
Of cloudless climes and starry skies;
And all that’s best of dark and bright
Meet in her aspect and her eyes:
Thus mellow’d to that tender light
Which heaven to gaudy day denies.

II

One shade the more, one ray the less,
Had half impair’d the nameless grace
Which waves in every raven tress,
Or softly lightens o’er her face;
Where thoughts serenely sweet express
How pure, how dear their dwelling-place.

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Editorial Reviews

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Caroline Kennedy's anthology takes its title from a poem by Lord Byron, but her selection of poems about women travels far beyond enthroned Romantics. To convey the breadth of female experience, editor Kennedy includes verse by Mary Oliver, Elizabeth Bishop, Edna St. Vincent Millay, Pablo Neruda, Sandra Cisneros, Anne Sexton, W.S. Merwin, Sharon Olds, W.H. Auden, William Butler Yeats, and others. A treasure to peruse at random or by whim.

Elizabeth Lund
The book's 13 sections explore various facets of womanhood, from love and motherhood to work, beauty and clothes, and growing old. Kennedy introduces each subject with an appealing blend of personal anecdotes and helpful observations about the poems…[she] knows when to change styles or moods so that these pieces feel fresh and broaden the audience's exposure to the genre…Kennedy has shown again [that] the right editor and guide can lead many readers into poetry's vital yet often-overlooked landscape.
—The Washington Post
Library Journal
For Kennedy, poetry has the great gift of "shap[ing] an endless conversation about the most important things in life." She learned that when she turned 50 and three friends sent her poems that afforded her both comfort and guidance. Thereafter she began creating this anthology of nearly 200 poems addressing the various stages of a woman's life, among them "Falling in Love," "Motherhood," "Death and Grief," and, yes, "Beauty, Clothes, and Things of This World." Many of the poems here are expected, e.g., Elizabeth Barrett Browning's "How Do I Love Thee," but others are delightful discoveries or reminders. Consider Kim Addonizio's "What Do Women Want?": "I want a red dress/ I want it flimsy and cheap/ I want it too tight/ I want to wear it/ until someone tears it off me." Or Paneshia Jones's "Bra Shopping": "At sixteen I am a jeans and t-shirt wearing tomboy who can think/ a few million more places to be…." Or Anna Swir's "The Greatest Love": "Her dear one says: You have hair like pearls.'/ Her children say:/ Old fool.' " The poets range from Sappho to Shakespeare to Plath, and Kennedy has the nerve to open with Gertrude Stein. VERDICT All in all, a warm and comfortable anthology for anyone (men, too) seeking solace in verse. [See the Q&A with Kennedy on p. 74.—Ed.]—Barbara Hoffert, Library Journal
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781401326005
  • Publisher: Hyperion
  • Publication date: 4/5/2011
  • Format: CD
  • Pages: 320
  • Product dimensions: 5.66 (w) x 5.22 (h) x 0.82 (d)

Meet the Author

Caroline Kennedy
Caroline Kennedy is the editor of the New York Times bestselling A Patriot's Handbook, Profiles in Courage for Our Time, The Best-Loved Poems of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, A Family of Poems, A Family Christmas, and the coauthor of The Right to Privacy and In Our Defense: The Bill of Rights in Action. She serves as the Vice Chair of the Fund for Public Schools in New York City and President of the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation. She lives in New York City.
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Customer Reviews

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