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About this poet

On February 9,  1874, Amy Lowell was born at Sevenels, a ten-acre family estate in Brookline, Massachusetts. Her family was Episcopalian, of old New England stock, and at the top of Boston society. Lowell was the youngest of five children. Her elder brother Abbott Lawrence, a freshman at Harvard at the time of her birth, went on to become president of Harvard College. As a young girl she was first tutored at home, then attended private schools in Boston, during which time she made several trips to Europe with her family. At seventeen she secluded herself in the 7,000-book library at Sevenels to study literature. Lowell was encouraged to write from an early age.

In 1887 she, with her mother and sister, wrote Dream Drops or Stories From Fairy Land by a Dreamer, printed privately by the Boston firm Cupples and Hurd. Her poem "Fixed Idea" was published in 1910 by the Atlantic Monthly, after which Lowell published individual poems in various journals. In October of 1912 Houghton Mifflin published her first collection, A Dome of Many Colored Glass.

Lowell, a vivacious and outspoken businesswoman, tended to excite controversy. She was deeply interested in and influenced by the Imagist movement, led by Ezra Pound. The primary Imagists were Pound, Ford Madox Ford, H.D. (Hilda Doolittle), and Richard Aldington. This Anglo-American movement believed, in Lowell's words, that "concentration is of the very essence of poetry" and strove to "produce poetry that is hard and clear, never blurred nor indefinite." Lowell campaigned for the success of Imagist poetry in America and embraced its principles in her own work. She acted as a publicity agent for the movement, editing and contributing to an anthology of Imagist poets in 1915.

Her enthusiastic involvement and influence contributed to Pound's separation from the movement. As Lowell continued to explore the Imagist style she pioneered the use of "polyphonic prose" in English, mixing formal verse and free forms. Later she was drawn to and influenced by Chinese and Japanese poetry. This interest led her to collaborate with translator Florence Ayscough on Fir-Flower Tablets in 1921. Lowell had a lifelong love for the poet Keats, whose letters she collected and influences can be seen in her poems. She believed him to be the forbearer of Imagism. Her biography of Keats was published in 1925, the same year she won the Pulitzer Prize for her collection What's A Clock (Houghton Mifflin Company, 1925). 

A dedicated poet, publicity agent, collector, critic, and lecturer, Lowell died on May 12, 1925, at Sevenels.


Selected Bibliography

Poetry

Selected Poems of Amy Lowell (Rutgers University Press, 2002)
What's A Clock (Houghton Mifflin Company, 1925)
Sword Blades and Poppy Seed (The Macmillan Company, 1914)

A Dome of Many Colored Glass (Houghton Mifflin Company, 1912) 

 

The Letter

Amy Lowell, 1874 - 1925

Little cramped words scrawling all over the paper
Like draggled fly's legs,
What can you tell of the flaring moon
Through the oak leaves?
Or of my uncertain window and thebare floor
Spattered with moonlight?
Your silly quirks and twists have nothing in them
Of blossoming hawthorns,
And this paper is dull, crisp, smooth, virgin of loveliness
Beneath my hand.

I am tired, Beloved, of chafing my heart against
The want of you;
Of squeezing it into little inkdrops,
And posting it.
And I scald alone, here, under the fire
Of the great moon.

This poem appeared in Poem-A-Day on February 9, 2013. Browse the Poem-A-Day archive. This poem is in the public domain.

This poem appeared in Poem-A-Day on February 9, 2013. Browse the Poem-A-Day archive. This poem is in the public domain.

Amy Lowell

Amy Lowell

Born in 1874, Amy Lowell was deeply interested in and influenced by the Imagist movement and she received the Pulitzer Prize for her collection What's A Clock

by this poet

poem

To Ezra Pound: with Much Friendship and Admiration and Some Differences of Opinion

The Poet took his walking-stick
Of fine and polished ebony.
Set in the close-grained wood
Were quaint devices;
Patterns in ambers,
And in the clouded green of jades.
The top was smooth, yellow ivory,
And a
poem
They brought me a quilled, yellow dahlia,
Opulent, flaunting.
Round gold
Flung out of a pale green stalk.
Round, ripe gold
Of maturity,
Meticulously frilled and flaming,
A fire-ball of proclamation:
Fecundity decked in staring yellow
For all the world to see.
They brought a quilled, yellow dahlia,
To me who am
poem
I

Our meeting was like the upward swish of a rocket	
In the blue night.	
I do not know when it burst;	
But now I stand gaping,	
In a glory of falling stars.	        
 
II

Hola! Hola! shouts the crowd, as the catherine-wheels sputter and turn.	
Hola! They cheer the flower-pots and set pieces.	
And

collected in

collection
Elizabeth Bishop and