William Empson Poems

William Empson was an influential English literary critic and metaphysical poet. His seminal work “Seven Types of Ambiguity” revolutionized literary criticism by championing close textual analysis and ambiguity.

Empson was also a gifted poet in his own right, admired by contemporaries for his intellectual precision and elaborate conceits reminiscent of John Donne.

To An Old Lady

by William Empson

William Empson’s poem ‘To An Old Lady’ explores the fading significance of time and societal expectations on aging.

This poem is a good representation of William Empson's poems. It showcases his distinct style characterized by rich imagery, metaphorical language, and a deep exploration of complex themes. The poem displays Empson's ability to convey profound ideas with precision and depth, using evocative language and thoughtful introspection. It captures his unique blend of intellectualism and emotional resonance, making it a fitting example of Empson's poetic style and thematic concerns.

Ripeness is all; her in her cooling planet

Revere; do not presume to think her wasted.

Project her no projectile, plan nor man it;

Gods cool in turn, by the sun long outlasted.

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