poem index

sign up to receive a new poem-a-day in your inbox

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-Coloured 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 O'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 O'Clock (Houghton Mifflin Company, 1925)
Sword Blades and Poppy Seed (The Macmillan Company, 1914)

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

 

Dawns

I have come
from pride
all the way up to humility
This day-to-night.
The hill
was more terrible
than ever before.
This is the top;
there is the tall, slim tree.
It isn’t bent; it doesn’t lean;
It is only looking back.
At dawn,
under that tree,
still another me of mine
was buried.
Waiting for me to come again,
humorously solicitous
of what I bring next,
it looks down.

This poem is in the public domain.

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 O'Clock.

by this poet

poem
          My Grandpapa lives in a wonderful house
           With a great many windows and doors,
          There are stairs that go up, and stairs that go down,
           And such beautiful, slippery floors.

          But of all of the rooms, even mother's and mine,
           And the bookroom, and parlour
poem
          My heart is tuned to sorrow, and the strings
           Vibrate most readily to minor chords,
           Searching and sad; my mind is stuffed with words
          Which voice the passion and the ache of things:
          Illusions beating with their baffled wings
           Against the walls of
poem
          Great master! Boyish, sympathetic man!
           Whose orbed and ripened genius lightly hung
           From life's slim, twisted tendril and there swung
          In crimson-sphered completeness; guardian
          Of crystal portals through whose openings fan
           The spiced winds which blew