Man and Wife

Robert Lowell

 
Tamed by Miltown, we lie on Mother's bed;
the rising sun in war paint dyes us red;
in broad daylight her gilded bed-posts shine,
abandoned, almost Dionysian.
At last the trees are green on Marlborough Street,
blossoms on our magnolia ignite
the morning with their murderous five days' white.
All night I've held your hand,
as if you had
a fourth time faced the kingdom of the mad—
its hackneyed speech, its homicidal eye—
and dragged me home alive. . . .Oh my Petite,
clearest of all God's creatures, still all air and nerve:
you were in your twenties, and I,
once hand on glass
and heart in mouth,
outdrank the Rahvs in the heat
of Greenwich Village, fainting at your feet—
too boiled and shy
and poker-faced to make a pass,
while the shrill verve
of your invective scorched the traditional South.
Now twelve years later, you turn your back.
Sleepless, you hold
your pillow to your hollows like a child;
your old-fashioned tirade—
loving, rapid, merciless—
breaks like the Atlantic Ocean on my head.
 
From Selected Poems by Robert Lowell, published by Farrar, Straus & Giroux, Inc. Copyright © 1976, 1977 by Robert Lowell. Used by permission.

Poems by This Author

"To Speak of Woe That Is in Marriage" by Robert Lowell
The hot night makes us keep our bedroom windows open
Dolphin by Robert Lowell
My Dolphin, you only guide me by surprise,
Epilogue by Robert Lowell
Those blessèd structures, plot and rhyme--
For the Union Dead by Robert Lowell
The old South Boston Aquarium stands
History by Robert Lowell
History has to live with what was here,
Home After Three Months Away by Robert Lowell
Gone now the baby's nurse,
Homecoming by Robert Lowell
What was is . . . since 1930;
Memories of West Street and Lepke by Robert Lowell
Only teaching on Tuesdays, book-worming
Skunk Hour by Robert Lowell
Nautilus Island's hermit
The Drunken Fisherman by Robert Lowell
Wallowing in this bloody sty,
The Public Garden by Robert Lowell
The Quaker Graveyard in Nantucket by Robert Lowell
A brackish reach of shoal off Madaket--
Waking in the Blue by Robert Lowell
The night attendant, a B.U. sophomore


Further Reading

Related Poems
The Seventh (A hetedik)
by Attila József
Poems for Anniversaries
A Man Meets a Woman in the Street
by Randall Jarrell
Couple Sharing a Peach
by Molly Peacock
Earth Tremors Felt in Missouri
by Mona Van Duyn
Francesco and Clare
by David St. John
I Married You
by Linda Pastan
Let Me Disappear
by Ray Gonzalez
Looking Back in My Eighty-First Year
by Maxine Kumin
My Wife
by Robert Louis Stevenson
Orpheus
by Robert Kelly
The Anniversary
by Elaine Terranova
The Anniversary
by John Donne
The Elephant is Slow to Mate
by D.H. Lawrence
The Storm
by Theodore Roethke
The Sympathies of the Long Married
by Robert Bly
To My Dear and Loving Husband
by Anne Bradstreet
Poems About Breakups and Divorce
"To Speak of Woe That Is in Marriage"
by Robert Lowell
The Aeneid, Book IV, [So, you traitor]
by Virgil
A Book Of Music
by Jack Spicer
After Love
by Sara Teasdale
Apart (Les Séparés)
by Louis Simpson
Chaos Is the New Calm
by Wyn Cooper
Coming and Going
by Tony Hoagland
Company
by Karen Leona Anderson
Dear Miss Emily
by James Galvin
Donal Óg
by Isabella Augusta, Lady Gregory
Family Reunion
by Jeredith Merrin
Footprint on Your Heart
by Gary Lenhart
Good Night
by Wilhelm Müller
Heart's Needle
by W. D. Snodgrass
I May After Leaving You Walk Quickly or Even Run
by Matthea Harvey
In Praise of Their Divorce
by Tony Hoagland
Multiple Man: Guest-starring me & you
by Gary Jackson
One Art
by Elizabeth Bishop
Pleasure
by Katie Peterson
Provisional
by Catherine Bowman
Remember
by Christina Rossetti
Sita
by Jason Schneiderman
The Gift
by Sara Teasdale
The Primer
by Christina Davis
The Vampire Bride [I am come—I am come!]
by Henry Thomas Liddell
This Was Once a Love Poem
by Jane Hirshfield
To Earthward
by Robert Frost
When We Two Parted
by George Gordon Byron