By Elinor Wylie 1885–1928 Elinor Wylie
For this she starred her eyes with salt
And scooped her temples thin,
Until her face shone pure of fault
From the forehead to the chin.

In coldest crucibles of pain
Her shrinking flesh was fired
And smoothed into a finer grain
To make it more desired.

Pain left her lips more clear than glass;
It colored and cooled her hand.
She lay a field of scented grass
Yielded as pasture land.

For this her loveliness was curved
And carved as silver is:
For this she was brave: but she deserved
A better grave than this.

Elinor Wylie, “Epitaph” from Selected Works of Elinor Wylie, edited by Evelyn Helmick Hively. Used with the permission of The Kent State University Press, http://upress.kent.edu/books/Hively2.htm.

Source: Selected Works of Elinor Wylie (Kent State University Press, 2005)

Discover this poem’s context and related poetry, articles, and media.

Poet Elinor Wylie 1885–1928


Subjects Sorrow & Grieving, Living, Health & Illness, Nature, Death, The Body

Occasions Funerals

Poetic Terms Rhymed Stanza, Common Measure, Elegy

 Elinor  Wylie


Extravagantly praised in her lifetime, the poet and novelist Elinor Wylie suffered a posthumous reversal in her reputation but has experienced something of a revival of interest among feminist critics since the 1980s.

Wylie was born in Somerville, New Jersey to a socially prominent family, and grew up in Rosemont, Pennsylvania, and Washington D.C. As the daughter of a lawyer who later became solicitor general of the United . . .

Continue reading this biography

Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Sorrow & Grieving, Living, Health & Illness, Nature, Death, The Body


Poetic Terms Rhymed Stanza, Common Measure, Elegy

Report a problem with this poem

Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

This poem has learning resources.

This poem is good for children.

This poem has related video.

This poem has related audio.