poem index


John Gould Fletcher

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John Gould Fletcher was born on January 3, 1886, in Little Rock, Arkansas. The son of a cotton broker, he enrolled at Harvard University but left before receiving a degree. He began writing poetry during a trip to the West Coast in 1905.

After his father died in 1906, leaving him an independent income, Fletcher moved to Italy and later settled in London. There, he met Ezra Pound, Amy Lowell, and the other imagist poets. Although he initially declined Pound’s invitation to appear in his anthology Des Imagistes, Fletcher joined the imagist group after Amy Lowell assumed leadership in 1914. He published his first five poetry manuscripts, including The Dominant City (Max Goschen) and Fire and Wine (Grant Richards), in 1913.

Fletcher went on to publish numerous poetry collections, including South Star (Macmillan, 1941), The Black Rock (Macmillan, 1928), Goblins and Pagodas (Houghton Mifflin, 1916), and Irradiations: Sand and Spray (Houghton Mifflin, 1915). He was also the author of an autobiography, Life Is My Song (Farrar & Rinehart, 1937), and a history of his native state, Arkansas (University of North Carolina Press, 1947).

Fletcher returned to Arkansas in 1933. In 1938 he became the first Southern poet to win the Pulitzer Prize, for Selected Poems (Farrar & Rinehart, 1938). He died, by suicide, near his country home in Little Rock, Arkansas, on May 10, 1950.

Selected Bibliography

Selected Poems (The University of Arkansas Press, 1988)
The Burning Mountain (E. P. Dutton, 1946)
South Star (Macmillan, 1941)
Selected Poems (Farrar & Rinehart, 1938)
XXIV Elegies (Writer’s Editions, 1935)
The Black Rock (Macmillan, 1928)
Branches of Adam (Faber and Gwyer, 1926)
Parables (Kegan Paul, 1925)
Breakers and Granite (Macmillan, 1921)
The Tree of Life (Macmillan, 1918)
Japanese Prints (Four Seas,1918)
Goblins and Pagodas (Houghton Mifflin, 1916)
Irradiations: Sand and Spray (Houghton Mifflin, 1915)
Visions of the Evening (Erskine MacDonald, 1913)
Fool’s Gold (Max Goschen, 1913)
Fire and Wine (Grant Richards, 1913)
The Dominant City (Max Goschen, 1913)
The Book of Nature (Constable & Co., 1913)

Life Is My Song: The Autobiography of John Gould Fletcher (Farrar & Rinehart, 1937)
Arkansas (University of North Carolina Press, 1947)

by this poet


Black swallows swooping or gliding
In a flurry of entangled loops and curves;
The skaters skim over the frozen river.
And the grinding click of their skates as they impinge upon the surface,
Is like the brushing together of thin wing-tips of silver.


Above the east horizon,
The great red flower of the dawn
Opens slowly, petal by petal;
The trees emerge from darkness
With ghostly silver leaves,
Dew powdered.
Now consciousness emerges
Reluctantly out of tides of sleep;
Finding with cold surprise
No strange new thing to

(To the Memory of Edgar Allan Poe)

City of night,
Wrap me in your folds of shadow.

City of twilight,
City that projects into the west,
City whose columns rest upon the sunset, city of square, threatening 
    masses blocking out the light:
City of twilight,
Wrap me in your folds of shadow.

City of