Nothing would have given Will Percy greater delight—he died in January 1942—than this Collected Poems, for although he was lawyer, soldier, cosmopolitan, plantation-owner, and patriot, it was as a poet that he chose to think himself. And indeed this is a volume to be treasured by those whose memories go fondly back to days of quieter, more contemplative living. For Percy was not in any sense a modernist; his love of tradition is as evident in these poems as it was in his prose. Here again is the same gentle quality of nostalgia which has made Lanterns on the Levee one of the most charming and authentic pictures of the old South at its best.
Percy’s first book of poems, Sappho in Levkas, was issued in 1905 and was followed by three others: In April Once (1920), Enzio’s Kingdom (1924), and Selected Poems (1930). In all of his poetry, Percy’s phrasing is lyric and dramatic; his verse forms subtly musical and finely regular—truly the work of a man who dreamed of the past and feared—all too prophetically—a dark and ominous future.