Amy Lowell Poems,Poet Amy Lowell’s literary reputation, marred in her lifetime due to her lifestyle and at times overbearing personality, has in recent years begun to improve as new generations of readers have rediscovered her work.
Born in 1874 in Brookline Massachusetts, Amy Lowell was the daughter of a prominent New England family, one that encouraged her love of reading and writing. She began writing poetry in 1902, inspired by seeing Eleonora Duse, one of the most beloved actresses of her generation, on stage.
Amy Lowell Bio
Lowell’s relationship with another actress, Ada Russell, would be the most important of her adult life. Lowell and Russell met in 1909 and were lovers for the remainder of Lowell’s life. Russell became the subject of many of Lowell’s poems, poems that were often written in code to disguise Lowell’s homosexual feelings toward Russell. However, as their relationship continued, Lowell’s poetry about Russell became more and more explicit about the nature of their relationship.
When Lowell died in 1925, her literary reputation was hardly secure. However, in 1926, she was posthumously awarded the Pulitzer Prize for her poetry collection What’s O’Clock. Throughout the remainder of the 20th Century, her poetry became more and more widely anthologized and read, restoring her reputation as one of the best American poets of the early 20th Century.
Amy Lowell Poems Part 1
A Coloured Print by Shokei
It winds along the face of a cliff
This path which I long to explore,
And over it dashes a waterfall,
And the air is full of the roar
And the thunderous voice of waters which sweep
In a silver torrent over some steep.
It clears the path with a mighty bound
And tumbles below and away,
And the trees and the bushes which grow in the rocks
Are wet with its jewelled spray;
The air is misty and heavy with sound,
And small, wet wildflowers star the ground.
Oh! The dampness is very good to smell,
And the path is soft to tread,
And beyond the fall it winds up and on,
While little streamlets thread
Their own meandering way down the hill
Each singing its own little song, until
I forget that ‘t is only a pictured path,
And I hear the water and wind,
And look through the mist, and strain my eyes
To see what there is behind;
For it must lead to a happy land,
This little path by a waterfall spanned.
A Fairy Tale
We read the fairy tale, while glowing coals
Builded its pictures. There before our eyes
We saw the vaulted hall of traceried stone
Uprear itself, the distant ceiling hung
With pendent stalactites like frozen vines;
And all along the walls at intervals,
Curled upwards into pillars, roses climbed,
And ramped and were confined, and clustered leaves
Divided where there peered a laughing face.
The foliage seemed to rustle in the wind,
A silent murmur, carved in still, gray stone.
High pointed windows pierced the southern wall
Whence proud escutcheons flung prismatic fires
To stain the tessellated marble floor
With pools of red, and quivering green, and blue;
And in the shade beyond the further door,
Its sober squares of black and white were hid
Beneath a restless, shuffling, wide-eyed mob
Of lackeys and retainers come to view
A sudden blare of trumpets, and the throng
About the entrance parted as the guests
Filed singly in with rare and precious gifts.
Our eager fancies noted all they brought,
The glorious, unattainable delights!
But always there was one unbidden guest
Who cursed the child and left it bitterness.The fire falls asunder, all is changed,
I am no more a child, and what I see
Is not a fairy tale, but life, my life.
The gifts are there, the many pleasant things:
Health, wealth, long-settled friendships, with a name
Which honors all who bear it, and the power
Of making words obedient. This is much;
But overshadowing all is still the curse,
That never shall I be fulfilled by love!
Along the parching highroad of the world
No other soul shall bear mine company.
Always shall I be teased with semblances,
With cruel impostures, which I trust awhile
Then dash to pieces, as a careless boy
Flings a kaleidoscope, which shattering
Strews all the ground about with colored sherds.
So I behold my visions on the ground
No longer radiant, an ignoble heap
Of broken, dusty glass. And so, unlit,
Even by hope or faith, my dragging steps
Force me forever through the passing days.
A Fixed Idea
What torture lurks within a single thought
When grown too constant, and however kind,
However welcome still, the weary mind
Aches with its presence. Dull remembrance taught
Remembers on unceasingly; unsought
The old delight is with us but to find
That all recurring joy is pain refined,
Become a habit, and we struggle, caught.
You lie upon my heart as on a nest,
Folded in peace, for you can never know
How crushed I am with having you at rest
Heavy upon my life. I love you so
You bind my freedom from its rightful quest.
In mercy lift your drooping wings and go.
A Japanese Wood-Carving
It hangs, a piece of wood with colours dim.
Once, long ago, it was a waving tree
And knew the sun and shadow through the leaves
Of forest trees, in a thick eastern wood.
The winter snows had bent its branches down,
The spring had swelled its buds with coming flowers,
Summer had run like fire through its veins,
While autumn pelted it with chestnut burrs,
And strewed the leafy ground with acorn cups.
Dark midnight storms had roared and crashed among
Its branches, breaking here and there a limb;
But every now and then broad sunlit days
Lovingly lingered, caught among the leaves.
Yes, it had known all this, and yet to us
It does not speak of mossy forest ways,
Of whispering pine trees or the shimmering birch;
But of quick winds, and the salt, stinging sea!
An artist once, with patient, careful knife,
Had fashioned it like to the untamed sea.
Here waves uprear themselves, their tops blown back
By the gay, sunny wind, which whips the blue
And breaks it into gleams and sparks of light.
Among the flashing waves are two white birds
Which swoop, and soar, and scream for very joy
At the wild sport. Now diving quickly in,
Questing some glistening fish. Now flying up,
Their dripping feathers shining in the sun,
While the wet drops like little glints of light,
Fall pattering backward to the parent sea.
Gliding along the green and foam-flecked hollows,
Or skimming some white crest about to break,
The spirits of the sky deigning to stoop
And play with ocean in a summer mood.
Hanging above the high, wide open door,
It brings to us in quiet, firelit room,
The freedom of the earth’s vast solitudes,
Where heaping, sunny waves tumble and roll,
And seabirds scream in wanton happiness.
A Little Song
How wearily goes the creeping day.
A year drags after morning, and night
Starts another year of candle light.
O Pausing Sun and Lingering Moon!
Grant me, I beg of you, this boon.Whirl round the earth as never sun
Has his diurnal journey run.
And, Moon, slip past the ladders of air
In a single flash, while your streaming hair
Catches the stars and pulls them down
To shine on some slumbering Chinese town.
O Kindly Sun! Understanding Moon!
Bring evening to crowd the footsteps of noon.But when that long awaited day
Hangs ripe in the heavens, your voyaging stay.
Be morning, O Sun! with the lark in song,
Be afternoon for ages long.
And, Moon, let you and your lesser lights
Watch over a century of nights.
A Winter Ride
Who shall tell of the pleasures of flight!
Springing and spurning the tufts of wild heather,
Sweeping, wide-winged, through the blue dome of light.
Everything mortal has moments immortal,
Swift and God-gifted, immeasurably bright.So with the stretch of the white road before me,
Shining snowcrystals rainbowed by the sun,
Fields that are white, stained with long, cool, blue shadows,
Strong with the strength of my horse as we run.
Joy in the touch of the wind and the sunlight!
Joy! With the vigorous earth I am one.
And every letter was a piece I chipped
From off my heart, a fragment newly clipped
From the mosaic of life; its blues and grays,
Its throbbing reds, I gave to earn your praise.
To make a pavement for your feet I stripped
My soul for you to walk upon, and slipped
Beneath your steps to soften all your ways.
But now my letters are like blossoms pale
We strew upon a grave with hopeless tears.
I ask no recompense, I shall not fail
Although you do not heed; the long, sad years
Still pass, and still I scatter flowers frail,
And whisper words of love which no one hears.
Apples of Hesperides
Apples of Hesperides!
Through the moon-pierced warp of night
Shoot pale shafts of yellow light,
Swaying to the kissing breeze
Swings the treasure, golden-gleaming,
Apples of Hesperides!Far and lofty yet they glimmer,
Apples of Hesperides!
Blinded by their radiant shimmer,
Pushing forward just for these;
Poor duped mortal, travel-scarred,
Always thinking soon to seize
And possess the golden-glistening
Apples of Hesperides!Orbed, and glittering, and pendent,
Apples of Hesperides!
Not one missing, still transcendent,
Clustering like a swarm of bees.
Yielding to no man’s desire,
Glowing with a saffron fire,
Splendid, unassailed, the golden
Apples of Hesperides!
A deep-voiced song of rushing cadences
And crashing intervals. No summer breeze
Is this, though hot July is at its height,
Gone is her gentler music; with delight
She listens to this booming like the seas,
These elemental, loud necessities
Which call to her to answer their swift might.
Above the tossing trees shines down a star,
Quietly bright; this wild, tumultuous joy
Quickens nor dims its splendour. And my mind,
O Star! is filled with your white light, from far,
So suffer me this one night to enjoy
The freedom of the onward sweeping wind.
As I would free the white almond from the green husk
So I would strip your trappings off,
And fingering the smooth and polished kernel
I should see that in my hands glittered a gem beyond counting.
They brought me a quilled, yellow dahlia,
Flung out of a pale green stalk.
Round, ripe gold
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 barren
Shall I send it to you,
You who have taken with you
All I once possessed?
Azure and Gold
With flickering yellows and reds,
The sparkle and coolness of snow
Was blown from the mountain beds.Across a deep-sunken stream
The pink of blossoming trees,
And from windless appleblooms
The humming of many bees.The air was of rose and gold
Arabesqued with the song of birds
Who, swinging unseen under leaves,
Made music more eager than words.Of a sudden, aslant the road,
A brightness to dazzle and stun,
A glint of the bluest blue,
A flash from a sapphire sun.Blue-birds so blue, ’twas a dream,
An impossible, unconceived hue,
The high sky of summer dropped down
Some rapturous ocean to woo.
Such a colour, such infinite light!
The heart of a fabulous gem,
Many-faceted, brilliant and rare.
Centre Stone of the earth’s diadem!
Centre Stone of the Crown of the World,
“Sincerity” graved on your youth!
And your eyes hold the blue-bird flash,
The sapphire shaft, which is truth.
The priest is yellow with sunflower meal,
He is yellow with corn-meal,
He is yellow as the sun.
His little bells are ringing,
The bells tinkle like sunlight,
The sun is rising.
Perhaps I will throw you a basket,
Perhaps I will throw you my heart.Lift the baskets, dancing,
Lower the baskets, dancing,
We have raised fruits,
Now we dance.
Our shadows are long,
The sunlight is bright between our shadows.
Do you want my basket?
But you cannot catch me,
I am more difficult.
By whom he learns that Nature’s steadfast laws
Are as decrees immutable; O pause
Your even forward march! Not yet too late
Teach me the needed lesson, when to wait
Inactive as a ship when no wind draws
To stretch the loosened cordage. One implores
Thy clemency, whose wilfulness innate
Has gone uncurbed and roughshod while the years
Have lengthened into decades; now distressed
He knows no rule by which to move or stay,
And teased with restlessness and desperate fears
He dares not watch in silence thy wise way
Bringing about results none could have guessed.
Before the Altar
With empty hands;
Upon it perfumed offerings burn
Wreathing with smoke the sacrificial urn.
Not one of all these has he given,
No flame of his has leapt to Heaven
Forked, and darted,
Consuming what a few spare pence
Have cheaply bought, to fling from hence
In idly-asked petition.His sole condition
Love and poverty.
And while the moon
Swings slow across the sky,
Athwart a waving pine tree,
Tips all the needles there
With silver sparkles, bitterly
He gazes, while his soul
Grows hard with thinking of the poorness of his dole.”Shining and distant Goddess, hear my prayer
Where you swim in the high air!
With charity look down on me,
Under this tree,
Tending the gifts I have not brought,
The rare and goodly things
I have not sought.
Instead, take from me all my life!”Upon the wings
Of shimmering moonbeams
I pack my poet’s dreams
My wearying strife,
My courage, my loss,
Into the night I toss
Deign to look down on me
Who so unworthily
Offers to you:
All life has known,
Seeds withered unsown,
Hopes turning quick to fears,
Laughter which dies in tears.
The shredded remnant of a man
Is all the span
And compass of my offering to you.”Empty and silent, I
Kneel before your pure, calm majesty.
On this stone, in this urn
I pour my heart and watch it burn,
Myself the sacrifice; but be
Still unmoved: Divinity.”
From the altar, bathed in moonlight,
The smoke rose straight in the quiet night.
Behind a Wall
A garden full of many a quaint delight
And warm with drowsy, poppied sunshine; bright,
Flaming with lilies out of whose cups dart
With powdered wings.Here terrace sinks to terrace, arbors close
The ends of dreaming paths; a wanton wind
Jostles the half-ripe pears, and then, unkind,
Tumbles a-slumber in a pillar rose,
Grown indolent.By night my garden is o’erhung with gems
Fixed in an onyx setting. Fireflies
Flicker their lanterns in my dazzled eyes.
In serried rows I guess the straight, stiff stems
Against the rocks.So far and still it is that, listening,
I hear the flowers talking in the dawn;
And where a sunken basin cuts the lawn,
Cinctured with iris, pale and glistening,
The sudden swish
Of a waking fish.
Who came upon me once
Stretched under apple-trees just after bathing,
Why did you not strangle me before speaking
Rather than fill me with the wild white honey of your words
And then leave me to the mercy
Of the forest bees?
High up in the apple tree climbing I go,
With the sky above me, the earth below.
Each branch is the step of a wonderful stair
Which leads to the town I see shining up there.
Climbing, climbing, higher and higher,
The branches blow and I see a spire,
The gleam of a turret, the glint of a dome,
All sparkling and bright, like white sea foam.
On and on, from bough to bough,
The leaves are thick, but I push my way through;
Before, I have always had to stop,
But to-day I am sure I shall reach the top.
Today to the end of the marvelous stair,
Where those glittering pinacles flash in the air!
Climbing, climbing, higher I go,
With the sky close above me, the earth far below.
Crepuscule du Matin
Which knocked insurgent at the gates of thought.
The crumbled wreck of years behind has wrought
Its disillusion; now I only cry
For peace, for power to forget the lie
Which hope too long has whispered. So I sought
The sleep which would not come, and night was fraught
With old emotions weeping silently.
I heard your voice again, and knew the things
Which you had promised proved an empty vaunt.
I felt your clinging hands while night’s broad wings
Cherished our love in darkness. From the lawn
A sudden, quivering birdnote, like a taunt.
My arms held nothing but the empty dawn.
Red like the wine of your heart;
You twisted them into a garland
To set me aside from the mart.
Red roses to crown me your lover,
And I walked aureoled and apart.Enslaved and encircled, I bore it,
Proud token of my gift to you.
The petals waned paler, and shriveled,
the thorns started through.
er thorns to proclaim me your lover,
A diadem woven with rue.
When you came, you were like red wine and honey,
And the taste of you burnt my mouth with its sweetness.
Now you are like morning bread,
Smooth and pleasant.
I hardly taste you at all for I know your savour,
But I am completely nourished.
Look, Dear, how bright the moonlight is to-night!
See where it casts the shadow of that tree
Far out upon the grass. And every gust
Of light night wind comes laden with the scent
Of opening flowers which never bloom by day:
Night-scented stocks, and four-o’clocks, and that
Pale yellow disk, upreared on its tall stalk,
The evening primrose, comrade of the stars.
It seems as though the garden which you love
Were like a swinging censer, its incense
Floating before us as a reverent act
To sanctify and bless our night of love.
Tell me once more you love me, that ‘t is you
Yes, really you, I touch, so, with my hand;
And tell me it is by your own free will
That you are here, and that you like to be
Just here, with me, under this sailing pine.
I need to hear it often for my heart
Doubts naturally, and finds it hard to trust.
Ah, Dearest, you are good to love me so,
And yet I would not have it goodness, rather
Excess of selfishness in you to need
Me through and through, as flowers need the sun.
I wonder can it really be that you
And I are here alone, and that the night
Is full of hours, and all the world asleep,
And none can call to you to come away;
For you have given all yourself to me
Making me gentle by your willingness.
Has your life too been waiting for this time,
Not only mine the sharpness of this joy?
Dear Heart, I love you, worship you as though
I were a priest before a holy shrine.
I’m glad that you are beautiful, although
Were you not lovely still I needs must love;
But you are all things, it must have been so
For otherwise it were not you. Come, close;
When you are in the circle of my arm
Faith grows a mountain and I take my stand
Upon its utmost top. Yes, yes, once more
Kiss me, and let me feel you very near
Wanting me wholly, even as I want you.
Have years behind been dark? Will those to come
Bring unguessed sorrows into our two lives?
What does it matter, we have had to-night!
To-night will make us strong, for we believe
Each in the other, this is a sacrament.
Beloved, is it true?
I do not care to talk to you although
Your speech evokes a thousand sympathies,
And all my being’s silent harmonies
Wake trembling into music. When you go
It is as if some sudden, dreadful blow
Had severed all the strings with savage ease.
No, do not talk; but let us rather seize
This intimate gift of silence which we know.
Others may guess your thoughts from what you say,
As storms are guessed from clouds where darkness broods.
To me the very essence of the day
Reveals its inner purpose and its moods;
As poplars feel the rain and then straightway
Reverse their leaves and shimmer through the woods.
Epitaph in a Church-Yard in Charleston, South Carolina
GEORGE AUGUSTUS CLOUGH
A NATIVE OF LIVERPOOL,
DIED SUDDENLY OF “STRANGER’S FEVER”
NOV’R 5th 1843
He died of “Stranger’s Fever” when his youth
Had scarcely melted into manhood, so
The chiselled legend runs; a brother’s woe
Laid bare for epitaph. The savage ruth
Of a sunny, bright, but alien land, uncouth
With cruel caressing dealt a mortal blow,
And by this summer sea where flowers grow
In tropic splendor, witness to the truth
Of ineradicable race he lies.
The law of duty urged that he should roam,
Should sail from fog and chilly airs to skies
Clear with deceitful welcome. He had come
With proud resolve, but still his lonely eyes
Ached with fatigue at never seeing home.
And my wooden clogs
Leave holes behind me in the snow.
But no one will pass this way
Seeking my footsteps,
And when the temple bell rings again
They will be covered and gone.
Stupefy my heart to every day’s monotony,
Seal up my eyes, I would not look so far,
Chasten my steps to peaceful regularity,
Bow down my head lest I behold a star.
Fill my days with work, a thousand calm necessities
Leaving no moment to consecrate to hope,
Girdle my thoughts within the dull circumferences
Of facts which form the actual in one short hour’s scope.
Give me dreamless sleep, and loose night’s power over me,
Shut my ears to sounds only tumultuous then,
Bid Fancy slumber, and steal away its potency,
Or Nature wakes and strives to live again.
Let each day pass, well ordered in its usefulness,
Unlit by sunshine, unscarred by storm;
Dower me with strength and curb all foolish eagerness —
The law exacts obedience. Instruct, I will conform.
What is poetry? Is it a mosaic
Of coloured stones which curiously are wrought
Into a pattern? Rather glass that’s taught
By patient labor any hue to take
And glowing with a sumptuous splendor, make
Beauty a thing of awe; where sunbeams caught,
Transmuted fall in sheafs of rainbows fraught
With storied meaning for religion’s sake.
Francis II, King of Naples
Written after reading Trevelyan’s “Garibaldi and the making of Italy”
Poor foolish monarch, vacillating, vain,
Decaying victim of a race of kings,
Swift Destiny shook out her purple wings
And caught him in their shadow; not again
Could furtive plotting smear another stain
Across his tarnished honour. Smoulderings
Of sacrificial fires burst their rings
And blotted out in smoke his lost domain.
Bereft of courtiers, only with his queen,
From empty palace down to empty quay.
No challenge screamed from hostile carabine.
A single vessel waited, shadowy;
All night she ploughed her solitary way
Beneath the stars, and through a tranquil sea.