Summary (Masterplots, Fourth Edition)
The writings of Dame Edith Sitwell sparked both friendly and hostile responses from twentieth century critics. Poets William Butler Yeats and Stephen Spender praised her work, but other critics denounced her work as unpoetic. Sitwell’s sharp criticism of those, such as poet Ezra Pound, who did not like her work, led to strongly partisan views of her poetry, with few critics taking time to evaluate the content and genius of her poetry. In the tradition of T. S. Eliot and other symbolist poets, Sitwell enjoyed using sharply contrasting images to evoke emotions in the reader.
Metamorphosis, both in its original version and even more so in its 1946 revision, represents a transition from Sitwell’s earlier, more self-conscious work to her more cohesive, thematically consistent poetry of later years. This poem also appeared in the book Five Variations on a Theme (1933), where it is grouped with four other poems, including “Elegy on Dead Fashion” (1926), “Two Songs” (“Come, My Arabia,” and “My desert has a noble sun for heart”—both left out of Sitwell’s Collected Poems of 1954), and “Romance” (1933). As with many of Sitwell’s other poetry, this set of poems shares several themes, especially that of death overcoming the destructive forces of time and leading to the brightness of eternity. In developing these themes she repeats imagery such as green grass and shadows and shade, along with longer passages of...
(The entire section is 1717 words.)
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