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 2
Frankincense and Myrrh
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 circumstance, and hoards
Of torn desires, broken joys; records
Of all a bruised life’s maimed imaginings.
Now you are come! You tremble like a star
Poised where, behind earth’s rim, the sun has set.
Your voice has sung across my heart, but numb
And mute, I have no tones to answer. Far
Within I kneel before you, speechless yet,
And life ablaze with beauty, I am dumb.
Free Fantasia on Japanese Themes
And the sun lies warm and still on the western sides of swollen branches.
There is no wind;
Even the little twigs at the ends of the branches do not move,
And the needles of the pines are solid
Bands of inarticulated blackness
Against the blue-white sky.Still, but alert;
And my heart is still and alert,
Passive with sunshine,
Avid of adventure.I would experience new emotions,
Submit to strange enchantments,
Bend to influences
Fresh with burgeoning.I would climb a sacred mountain,
Struggle with other pilgrims up a steep path through pine-trees,
Above to the smooth, treeless slopes,
And prostrate myself before a painted shrine,
Beating my hands upon the hot earth,
Quieting my eyes upon the distant sparkle
Of the faint spring sea.I would recline upon a balcony
In purple curving folds of silk,
And my dress should be silvered with a pattern
Of butterflies and swallows,
And the black band of my obi
Should flash with gold circular threads,
And glitter when I moved.
I would lean against the railing
While you sang to me of wars
Past and to come—
Sang, and played the samisen.Perhaps I would beat a little hand drum
In time to your singing;
Perhaps I would only watch the play of light
Upon the hilt of your two swords.
I would sit in a covered boat,
Rocking slowly to the narrow waves of a river,
While above us, an arc of moving lanterns,
Curved a bridge,
A hiss of gold
Blooming out of darkness,
And died in a soft dripping of colored stars.
We would float between the high trestles,
And drift away from other boats,
Until the rockets flared soundless,
And their falling stars hung silent in the sky,
Like wistaria clusters above the ancient entrance of a temple.
I would anything
Rather than this cold paper;
With outside, the quiet son on the sides of burgeoning branches,
And inside, only my books.
As blue as blue can be, winds make
It dance as they go blowing by.
I think it curtseys to the sky.It’s just a lake of lovely flowers
And my Mamma says they are ours;
But they are not like those we grow
To be our very own, you know.We have a splendid garden, there
Are lots of flowers everywhere;
Roses, and pinks, and four o’clocks
And hollyhocks, and evening stocks.Mamma lets us pick them, but never
Must we pick any gentians — ever!
For if we carried them away
They’d die of homesickness that day.
From One Who Stays
A wilderness of sad streets, where gaunt walls
Hide nothing to desire; sunshine falls
Eery, distorted, as it long had shone
On white, dead faces tombed in halls of stone.
The whir of motors, stricken through with calls
Of playing boys, floats up at intervals;
But all these noises blur to one long moan.
What quest is worth pursuing? And how strange
That other men still go accustomed ways!
I hate their interest in the things they do.
A spectre-horde repeating without change
An old routine. Alone I know the days
Are still-born, and the world stopped, lacking you.
You are like the stem
Of a young beech-tree,
Straight and swaying,
Breaking out in golden leaves.
Your walk is like the blowing of a beech-tree
On a hill.
Your voice is like leaves
Softly struck upon by a South wind.
Your shadow is no shadow, but a scattered sunshine;
And at night you pull the sky down to you
And hood yourself in stars.
But I am like a great oak under a cloudy sky,
Watching a stripling beech grow up at my feet.
A voice heard singing music, large and free;
And from that moment life is changed, and we
Become of more heroic temper, meet
To freely ask and give, a man complete
Radiant because of faith, we dare to be
What Nature meant us. Brave idolatry
Which can conceive a hero! No deceit,
No knowledge taught by unrelenting years,
Can quench this fierce, untamable desire.
We know that what we long for once achieved
Will cease to satisfy. Be still our fears;
If what we worship fail us, still the fire
Burns on, and it is much to have believed.
I heard the herons Flying
And when I came into my garden,
My silken outer-garment
Trailed over withered leaves.
A dried leaf crumbles at a touch,
But I have seen many Autumns
With herons blowing like smoke
Across the sky.
The south wind smells of the pungent sea,
Gold tulip cups are heavy with dew.
The night’s for you, Sweetheart, for you!
Starfire rains from the vaulted blue.Listen! The dancing of unseen leaves.
A drowsy swallow stirs in the eaves.
Only a maiden is sorrowing.
‘T is night and spring, Sweetheart, and spring!
Starfire lights your heart’s blossoming.In the intimate dark there’s never an ear,
Though the tulips stand on tiptoe to hear,
So give; ripe fruit must shrivel or fall.
As you are mine, Sweetheart, give all!
Starfire sparkles, your coronal.
Life’s brightest stars rise from a troubled sea
Must years go by in sad uncertainty
Leaving us doubting whose the conquering blows,
Are we or Fate the victors? Time which shows
All inner meanings will reveal, but we
Shall never know the upshot. Ours to be
Wasted with longing, shattered in the throes,
The agonies of splendid dreams, which day
Dims from our vision, but each night brings back;
We strive to hold their grandeur, and essay
To be the thing we dream. Sudden we lack
The flash of insight, life grows drear and gray,
And hour follows hour, nerveless, slack.
Your shadow is sunlight on a plate of silver;
Your footsteps, the seeding-place of lilies;
Your hands moving, a chime of bells across a windless air.The movement of your hands is the long, golden running of light from a rising sun;
It is the hopping of birds upon a garden-path.As the perfume of jonquils, you come forth in the morning.
Young horses are not more sudden than your thoughts,
Your words are bees about a pear-tree,
Your fancies are the gold-and-black striped wasps buzzing among red apples.
I drink your lips,
I eat the whiteness of your hands and feet.
My mouth is open,
As a new jar I am empty and open.
Like white water are you who fill the cup of my mouth,
Like a brook of water thronged with lilies.You are frozen as the clouds,
You are far and sweet as the high clouds.
I dare to reach to you,
I dare to touch the rim of your brightness.
I leap beyond the winds,
I cry and shout,
For my throat is keen as is a sword
Sharpened on a hone of ivory.
My throat sings the joy of my eyes,
The rushing gladness of my love.How has the rainbow fallen upon my heart?
How have I snared the seas to lie in my fingers
And caught the sky to be a cover for my head? How have you come to dwell with me,
Compassing me with the four circles of your mystic lightness,
So that I say “Glory! Glory!” and bow before you
As to a shrine?Do I tease myself that morning is morning and a day after?
Do I think the air is a condescension,
The earth a politeness,
Heaven a boon deserving thanks?
So you — air — earth — heaven —
I do not thank you,
I take you,
And those things which I say in consequence
Are rubies mortised in a gate of stone.
And grated green almonds to spread on them;
When I have picked the green crowns from the strawberries
And piled them, cone-pointed, in a blue and yellow platter;
When I have smoothed the seam of the linen I have been working;
To-morrow it will be the same:
Cakes and strawberries,
And needles in and out of cloth
If the sun is beautiful on bricks and pewter,
How much more beautiful is the moon,
Slanting down the gauffered branches of a plum-tree;
Wavering across a bed of tulips;
Upon your face.
You shine, Beloved,
You and the moon.
But which is the reflection?
The clock is striking eleven.
I think, when we have shut and barred the door,
The night will be dark
A dim red glare through mud bespattered glass,
Cleaving a path between blown walls of sleet
Across uneven pavements sunk in slime
To scatter and then quench itself in mist.
And struggling, slipping, often rudely hurled
Against the jutting angle of a wall,
And cursed, and reeled against, and flung aside
By drunken brawlers as they shuffled past,
A man was groping to what seemed a light.
His eyelids burnt and quivered with the strain
Of looking, and against his temples beat
The all enshrouding, suffocating dark.
He stumbled, lurched, and struck against a door
That opened, and a howl of obscene mirth
Grated his senses, wallowing on the floor
Lay men, and dogs and women in the dirt.
He sickened, loathing it, and as he gazed
The candle guttered, flared, and then went out.Through travail of ignoble midnight streets
He came at last to shelter in a porch
Where gothic saints and warriors made a shield
To cover him, and tortured gargoyles spat
One long continuous stream of silver rain
That clattered down from myriad roofs and spires
Into a darkness, loud with rushing sound
Of water falling, gurgling as it fell,
But always thickly dark. Then as he leaned
Unconscious where, the great oak door blew back
And cast him, bruised and dripping, in the church.
His eyes from long sojourning in the night
Were blinded now as by some glorious sun;
He slowly crawled toward the altar steps.
He could not think, for heavy in his ears
An organ boomed majestic harmonies;
He only knew that what he saw was light!
He bowed himself before a cross of flame
And shut his eyes in fear lest it should fade.
Leisure, thou goddess of a bygone age,
When hours were long and days sufficed to hold
Wide-eyed delights and pleasures uncontrolled
By shortening moments, when no gaunt presage
Of undone duties, modern heritage,
Haunted our happy minds; must thou withhold
Thy presence from this over-busy world,
And bearing silence with thee disengage
Our twined fortunes? Deeps of unhewn woods
Alone can cherish thee, alone possess
Thy quiet, teeming vigor. This our crime:
Not to have worshipped, marred by alien moods
That sole condition of all loveliness,
The dreaming lapse of slow, unmeasured time.
‘T is you that are the music, not your song.
The song is but a door which, opening wide,
Lets forth the pent-up melody inside,
Your spirit’s harmony, which clear and strong
Sings but of you. Throughout your whole life long
Your songs, your thoughts, your doings, each divide
This perfect beauty; waves within a tide,
Or single notes amid a glorious throng.
The song of earth has many different chords;
Ocean has many moods and many tones
Yet always ocean. In the damp Spring woods
The painted trillium smiles, while crisp pine cones
Autumn alone can ripen. So is this
One music with a thousand cadences.
Against the canoe’s curving side,
Softly the birch trees rustle
Flinging over us branches wide.Softly the moon glints and glistens
As the water takes and leaves,
Like golden ears of corn
Which fall from loose-bound sheaves,Or like the snow-white petals
Which drop from an overblown rose,
When Summer ripens to Autumn
And the freighted year must close.From the shore come the scents of a garden,
And between a gap in the trees
A proud white statue glimmers
In cold, disdainful ease.The child of a southern people,
The thought of an alien race,
What does she in this pale, northern garden,
How reconcile it with her grace?But the moon in her wayward beauty
Is ever and always the same,
As lovely as when upon Latmos
She watched till Endymion came.
Through the water the moon writes her legends
In light, on the smooth, wet sand;
They endure for a moment, and vanish,
And no one may understand.
All round us the secret of Nature
Is telling itself to our sight,
We may guess at her meaning but never
Can know the full mystery of night.
But her power of enchantment is on us,
We bow to the spell which she weaves,
Made up of the murmur of waves
And the manifold whisper of leaves.
Madonna of the Evening Flowers
Now I am tired
I call: “Where are you?”
But there is only the oak-tree rustling in the wind.
The house is very quiet,
The sun shines in on your books,
On your scissors and thimble just put down,
But you are not there.
Suddenly I am lonely:
Where are you? I go about searching.Then I see you,
Standing under a spire of pale blue larkspur,
With a basket of roses on your arm.
You are cool, like silver,
And you smile.
I think the Canterbury bells are playing little tunes.You tell me that the peonies need spraying,
That the columbines have overrun all bounds,
That the pyrus japonica should be cut back and rounded.
You tell me all these things.
But I look at you, heart of silver,
White heart-flame of polished silver,
Burning beneath the blue steeples of the larkspur,
And I long to kneel instantly at your feet,
While all about us peal the loud, sweet, Te Deums of the Canterbury bells.
Heavy, through trees, blows the warm south wind.
Glistening, against the chill, gray sky light,
Wet, black branches are barred and entwined.Sodden and spongy, the scarce-green grass plot
Dents into pools where a foot has been.
Puddles lie spilt in the road a mass, not
Of water, but steel, with its cold, hard sheen.Faint fades the fire on the hearth, its embers
Scattering wide at a stronger gust.
Above, the old weathercock groans, but remembers
Creaking, to turn, in its centuried rust.Dying, forlorn, in dreary sorrow,
Wrapping the mists round her withering form,
Day sinks down; and in darkness to-morrow
Travails to birth in the womb of the storm.
Spotted and sprigged with shadows. Double rows
Of bartering booths spread out their tempting shows
Of globed and golden fruit, the morning air
Smells sweet with ripeness, on the pavement there
A wicker basket gapes and overflows
Spilling out cool, blue plums. The market glows,
And flaunts, and clatters in its busy care.
A stately minster at the northern side
Lifts its twin spires to the distant sky,
Pinnacled, carved and buttressed; through the wide
Arched doorway peals an organ, suddenly —
Crashing, triumphant in its pregnant tide,
Quenching the square in vibrant harmony.
How is it that, being gone, you fill my days,
And all the long nights are made glad by thee?
No loneliness is this, nor misery,
But great content that these should be the ways
Whereby the Fancy, dreaming as she strays,
Makes bright and present what she would would be.
And who shall say if the reality
Is not with dreams so pregnant. For delays
And hindrances may bar the wished-for end;
A thousand misconceptions may prevent
Our souls from coming near enough to blend;
Let me but think we have the same intent,
That each one needs to call the other, “friend!”
It may be vain illusion. I’m content.
Monadnock in Early Spring
The little lesser hills which compass thee,
Thou standest, bright with April’s buoyancy,
Yet holding Winter in some shaded wall
Of stern, steep rock; and startled by the call
Of Spring, thy trees flush with expectancy
And cast a cloud of crimson, silently,
Above thy snowy crevices where fall
Pale shrivelled oak leaves, while the snow beneath
Melts at their phantom touch. Another year
Is quick with import. Such each year has been.
Unmoved thou watchest all, and all bequeath
Some jewel to thy diadem of power,
Thou pledge of greater majesty unseen.
New York at Night
Cut brutally into a sky
Of leaden heaviness, and crags
Of houses lift their masonry
Ugly and foul, and chimneys lie
And snort, outlined against the gray
Of lowhung cloud. I hear the sigh
The goaded city gives, not day
Nor night can ease her heart, her anguished labours stay.Below, straight streets, monotonous,
From north and south, from east and west,
Stretch glittering; and luminous
Above, one tower tops the rest
And holds aloft man’s constant quest:
Time! Joyless emblem of the greed
Of millions, robber of the best
Which earth can give, the vulgar creed
Has seared upon the night its flaming ruthless screed.O Night! Whose soothing presence brings
The quiet shining of the stars.
O Night! Whose cloak of darkness clings
So intimately close that scars
Are hid from our own eyes. Beggars
By day, our wealth is having night
To burn our souls before altars
Dim and tree-shadowed, where the light
Is shed from a young moon, mysteriously bright.Where art thou hiding, where thy peace?
This is the hour, but thou art not.
Will waking tumult never cease?
Hast thou thy votary forgot?
Nature forsakes this man-begot
And festering wilderness, and now
The long still hours are here, no jot
Of dear communing do I know;
Instead the glaring, man-filled city groans below!
On Carpaccio’s Picture
From some unshuttered casement, hid from sight,
The level sunshine slants, its greater light
Quenching the little lamp which pallid, poor,
Flickering, unreplenished, at the door
Has striven against darkness the long night.
Dawn fills the room, and penetrating, bright,
The silent sunbeams through the window pour.
And she lies sleeping, ignorant of Fate,
Enmeshed in listless dreams, her soul not yet
Ripened to bear the purport of this day.
The morning breeze scarce stirs the coverlet,
A shadow falls across the sunlight; wait!
A lark is singing as he flies away.
The touch of you burns my hands like snow.
You are cold and flame.
You are the crimson of amaryllis,
The silver of moon-touched magnolias.
When I am with you,
My heart is a frozen pond
Gleaming with agitated torches.
I walk down the garden-paths,
And all the daffodils
Are blowing, and the bright blue squills.
I walk down the patterned garden-paths
In my stiff, brocaded gown.
With my powdered hair and jeweled fan,
I too am a rare
Pattern. As I wander down
My dress is richly figured,
And the train
Makes a pink and silver stain
On the gravel, and the thrift
Of the borders.
Just a plate of current fashion,
Tripping by in high-heeled, ribboned shoes.
Not a softness anywhere about me,
Only whalebone and brocade.
And I sink on a seat in the shade
Of a lime tree. For my passion
Wars against the stiff brocade.
The daffodils and squills
Flutter in the breeze
As they please.
And I weep;
For the lime-tree is in blossom
And one small flower has dropped upon my bosom.
And the plashing of waterdrops
In the marble fountain
Comes down the garden-paths.
The dripping never stops.
Underneath my stiffened gown
Is the softness of a woman bathing in a marble basin,
A basin in the midst of hedges grown
So thick, she cannot see her lover hiding,
But she guesses he is near,
And the sliding of the water
Seems the stroking of a dear
Hand upon her.
What is Summer in a fine brocaded gown!
I should like to see it lying in a heap upon the ground.
All the pink and silver crumpled up on the ground.
I would be the pink and silver as I ran along the paths,
And he would stumble after,
Bewildered by my laughter.
I should see the sun flashing from his sword-hilt and the
buckles on his shoes.
I would choose
To lead him in a maze along the patterned paths,
A bright and laughing maze for my heavy-booted lover.
Till he caught me in the shade,
And the buttons of his waistcoat bruised my body as he
Aching, melting, unafraid.
With the shadows of the leaves and the sundrops,
And the plopping of the waterdrops,
All about us in the open afternoon–
I am very like to swoon
With the weight of this brocade,
For the sun sifts through the shade.
Underneath the fallen blossom
In my bosom,
Is a letter I have hid.
It was brought to me this morning by a rider from the
“Madam, we regret to inform you that Lord Hartwell
Died in action Thursday se’nnight.”
As I read it in the white, morning sunlight,
The letters squirmed like snakes.
“Any answer, Madam,” said my footman.
“No,” I told him.
“See that the messenger takes some refreshment.
No, no answer.”
And I walked into the garden,
Up and down the patterned paths,
In my stiff, correct brocade.
The blue and yellow flowers stood up proudly in the sun,
I stood upright too,
Held rigid to the pattern
By the stiffness of my gown.
Up and down I walked,
Up and down.
In a month he would have been my husband.
In a month, here, underneath this lime,
We would have broke the pattern;
He for me, and I for him,
He as Colonel, I as Lady,
On this shady seat.
He had a whim
That sunlight carried blessing.
And I answered, “It shall be as you have said.”
Now he is dead.
In Summer and in Winter I shall walk
Up and down
The patterned garden-paths
In my stiff, brocaded gown.
The squills and daffodils
Will give place to pillared roses, and to asters, and to snow.
I shall go
Up and down
In my gown.
Boned and stayed.
And the softness of my body will be guarded from embrace
By each button, hook, and lace.
For the man who should loose me is dead,
Fighting with the Duke in Flanders,
In a pattern called a war.
Christ! What are patterns for?