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Amy Levy

Amy Levy (1861-1889) was a British writer, poet, and essayist. Her writing included novels, essays about Jewish culture and literature, feminist and sapphic poetry, and literary periodicals. Two of her most notable works of this type were published in Oscar Wilde's magazine The Woman's World, "Cohen of Trinity" and "Wise in Their Generation." There is debate over whether Levy should be considered a Victorian Lesbian writer, as much speculation has been generated, stemming from many of the poems in which she confessed her love to Vernon Lee. In her personal life, Levy also deal with boughts of major depression during her life starting from an early age. Her depression worsened, due partially to the increasing onset of her deafness and also distress resulting from her romantic relationships. Tragically, Levy died by suicide at the age of 28.

Levy met Vernon Lee in in 1886 while traveling to Florence. She then fell in love with her and both women went onto explore themes of sapphic love in their works. One poem in particular that Levy dedicated to Vernon Lee was one titled “To Vernon Lee”:

ON Bellosguardo, when the year was young,

We wandered, seeking for the daffodil

And dark anemone, whose purples fill

The peasant’s plot, between the corn-shoots sprung.

Over the gray, low wall the olive flung

Her deeper grayness; far off, hill on hill

Sloped to the sky, which, pearly-pale and still,

Above the large and luminous landscape hung.

A snowy blackthorn flowered beyond my reach;

You broke a branch and gave it to me there;

found for you a scarlet blossom rare.

Thereby ran on of Art and Life our speech;

And of the gifts the gods had given to each—

Hope unto you, and unto me Despair (Levy).


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