This splendid volume contains the work of many women poets from ancient times to the 20th century. The English versions of poems from other languages have been translated by a wide range of poets, scholars and professional translators. Some are in free verse, others in metrical and rhymed verse and others preserve the formal pattern of the originals. All of them succeed as fine poems in English.
The poems are arranged chronologically, thereby demonstrating some worldwide trends such as the devotional poetry of the 12th to 16th centuries that was surprisingly universal, for example the work of the Indian poets Mahadeviyakka and Mira Bai, the Dutch mystic Hadewijch and Saint Theresa of Avila. The chapters are:
The Ancient World, which includes work from ancient Egypt, the Song of Deborah, and poetry from Rome, China, India and Greece, including poems by Sappho.
The Middle Period 600 - 1500, including Sanskrit, Arabic, Byzantine, Japanese, Chinese, Spanish, Dutch and French poetry.
The Renaissance and its Contemporaries 1500 - 1800, amongst which my favorites are Louise Labe of France, St Theresa, Mira Bai, Queen Elizabeth I, Sor Juana de la Cruz and Anne Bradstreet.
The 19th Century, which includes Emily Bronte, Emily Dickinson and Elizabeth Barrett Browning.
By far the most extensive section, The 20th Century includes poems by Anna Akhmatova (Russia), Amrita Pritam (India), Ingrid Jonker (South Africa: Afrikaans), Getrude Stein, Denise Levertov, Anne Sexton, Sylvia Plath, Margaret Atwood and Stevie Smith.
There is an appendix titled Acknowledgements To Authors, Translators and Publishers which is a bibliography of works in copyright, and the volume concludes with an index of authors.