Matters of the heart and the way people can be in constant doubt, result in poems. Poems written with emotions that will turn out to be accurate, even when the poet who wrote the words is long gone. This is certainly true when it comes to Sonnet, written by Amy Levy.
About the poet
The 27 Club is a list of musicians, who died at the early age of 27. Amongst the ones who are listed are names like Jim Morrison, Brian Jones, Janis Joplin, Kurt Cobain and Amy Winehouse. If the list would be extended with other creative minds than musicians, the list would even be longer. The list would certainly include the poetess Amy Judith Levy.
Levy was born on November 10 1861 in London. She was the daughter of Lewis and Isobel Levy. At an early age she became interested in literature. This lead to the writing of a criticism of Elizabeth Browning’s work – Aurora Leigh. She was only thirteen when she wrote this. A year later, she published her first poem, Ida Grey: a story of woman’s sacrifice. This work was picked up by the editors of the Pelican.
Fortunately for Levy, her parents believed in equal chances for girls and women, when it concerned education. Even though she was one of seven children, Levy could go to high school and later on the Newnham College in Cambridge.
She set a record, as she was the first Jewish student at that institution. Unfortunately, she did not finish her study. With only one year to go, she left. She also left the world at a too young age. She committed suicide at her parent’s house , only two months before she would celebrate her 28th birthday. She had been struggling to cope with her depression. This was caused by her love life, but mostly her growing deafness. When she died, no other than Oscar Wilde praised her gifts as a writer and poet in an edition of Women’s World.
Maybe Levy would have taken some comfort in the fact that she is today still remembered as a poetess who left us beautiful work. Sadly, this work ended when she was only 27 years old.
The basis of her professional career was made at an early age. It was her novel The romance of a shop, published in 1888, that gave her a boost of fame. An important work when it comes down to the emancipation of women. Her novel was about four sisters, who were trying to run a business in London. It was also an outcry for the equal treatment of Jews in Great Brittan.
From that moment on, she started writing, writing and writing: essays, short stories and poems. Her work was greatly inspired by her religion.
By Amy Levy
Most wonderful and strange it seems, that I
Who but a little time ago was tost
High on the waves of passion and of pain,
With aching heat and wildly throbbing brain,
Who peered into the darkness, deeming vain
All things there found if but One thing were lost,
Thus calm and still and silent here should lie,
Watching and waiting, –waiting passively.
The dark has faded, and before mine eyes
Have long, grey flats expanded, dim and bare;
And through the changing guises all things wear
Inevitable Law I recognise:
Yet in my heart a hint of feeling lies
Which half a hope and half a despair.