FIFTEEN WOMEN: French Women Poets of the Early 20th Century. Translation & Notes by Edward Hewett. Greensboro Unicorn Press Inc., Greensboro, N.C., 2010., 122 pages. $15.95.

In 1949, when Edward Hewett was a young art student on scholarship in Paris, he discovered not only French art, but French poetry. In the years since, he has devoted himself largely to art rather than poetry, teaching first at Ohio State University, then, in 1970 coming to the Island where he taught art for nine years at the Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School.

And, of course, he has been drawing and painting himself. His hand-painted chests — decorated sometimes with floral patterns, sometimes with Vineyard scenes — are displayed at the Granary Gallery in West Tisbury and his imaginative murals decorate the Chilmark and Vineyard Haven public libraries. He has also had shows of his abstract paintings in gold at the Chilmark Public Library and the Dragonfly Gallery in Oak Bluffs and at the Cary Library in Lexington.

But he has never forgotten poetry, dabbling in writing a little of it himself, and he also has been working on translations of the verse of 15 French women poets whose work he admired in his long-ago Paris days.

Many of the poems he has translated have a tranquil quality to them — well suited for summer reading out of doors in the shade of trees or under a beach umbrella with a cool breeze blowing. There are birds and flowers and gardens in this book of poetry, blue skies and green meadows and the moon on the sea.

“Naked, curving, glistening and bright, It polishes its own likeness, Conches of the sea,” Gerard D’Houville, the nom de plume of the woman writer Marie de Heredia, writes in Moon on the Sea, while Lucie Delarue-Madrus remembers the scents of Normandy apple trees and the sweetness of fresh-cut hay. Anna Comtesse de Noailles writes of a garden where “light will fill the narrow pathways, Where the flower shadows like a vestment falls.”

There are also love poems, philosophical poems, poems about children and death in this slim volume. One particularly touching poem is Amelie Murat’s Lullaby for a Non-existent Child.

The selected works of each poet are given, first as Ted Hewett has translated them. Then that poet’s group of poems in French follows. He has elected to have the poetry printed this way, the author says, since he is not doing word-by-word translations, but rewriting the French poems in English. Some readers of French may find this frustrating, but those who do not reach French will probably prefer his decision.

Fifteen Women is a limited edition of only 100 copies. It is on sale at The Bunch of Grapes Bookstore in Vineyard Haven.