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 3
Life is a stream
On which we strew
Petal by petal the flower of our heart;
The end lost in dream,
They float past our view,
We only watch their glad, early start.
Freighted with hope,
Crimsoned with joy,
We scatter the leaves of our opening rose;
Their widening scope,
Their distant employ,
We never shall know. And the stream as it flows
Sweeps them away,
Each one is gone
Ever beyond into infinite ways.
We alone stay
While years hurry on,
The flower fared forth, though its fragrance still stays.
Prayer for a profusion of sunflowers
With my turkey-bone whistle
I am calling the birds
To sing upon the sunflowers.
For when the clouds hear them singing
They will come quickly,
And rain will fall upon our fields.
Prayer for lightning
I am praying to the lightning to ripen my corn,
I am praying to the thunder which carries the lightning.
Corn is sweet where lightning has fallen.
I pray to the six-coloured clouds.
I know a country laced with roads,
They join the hills and they span the brooks,
They weave like a shuttle between broad fields,
And slide discreetly through hidden nooks.
They are canopied like a Persian dome
And carpeted with orient dyes.
They are myriad-voiced, and musical,
And scented with happiest memories.
O Winding roads that I know so well,
Every twist and turn, every hollow and hill!
They are set in my heart to a pulsing tune
Gay as a honey-bee humming in June.
‘T is the rhythmic beat of a horse’s feet
And the pattering paws of a sheep-dog bitch;
‘T is the creaking trees, and the singing breeze,
And the rustle of leaves in the road-side ditch.
A cow in a meadow shakes her bell
And the notes cut sharp through the autumn air,
Each chattering brook bears a fleet of leaves
Their cargo the rainbow, and just now where
The sun splashed bright on the road ahead
A startled rabbit quivered and fled.
O Uphill roads and roads that dip down!
You curl your sun-spattered length along,
And your march is beaten into a song
By the softly ringing hoofs of a horse
And the panting breath of the dogs I love.
The pageant of Autumn follows its course
And the blue sky of Autumn laughs above.
And the song and the country become as one,
I see it as music, I hear it as light;
Prismatic and shimmering, trembling to tone,
The land of desire, my soul’s delight.
And always it beats in my listening ears
With the gentle thud of a horse’s stride,
With the swift-falling steps of many dogs,
Following, following at my side.
O Roads that journey to fairyland!
Radiant highways whose vistas gleam,
Leading me on, under crimson leaves,
To the opaline gates of the Castles of Dream.
Oh! To be a flower
Nodding in the sun,
Bending, then upspringing
As the breezes run;
A scent-brimmed cup,
Full of summer’s fragrance to the summer sun.
Oh! To be a butterfly
Still, upon a flower,
Winking with its painted wings,
Happy in the hour.
Mines of gold
Deep within the farthest heart of each chaliced flower.
Oh! To be a cloud
Blowing through the blue,
Shadowing the mountains,
Rushing loudly through
Where torrents keep
Always their plunging thunder and their misty arch of blue.
Oh! To be a wave
Splintering on the sand,
Drawing back, but leaving
Lingeringly the land.
Telling tales of coral caves half hid in yellow sand.
Soon they die, the flowers;
Insects live a day;
Clouds dissolve in showers;
Only waves at play
Make a sea of purpose mightier than we dream to-day?
Suggested by the Cover of a Volume of Keats’s Poems
To put upon the cover of this book?
Who heard thee singing in the distance dim,
The vague, far greenness of the enshrouding wood,
When the damp freshness of the morning earth
Was full of pungent sweetness and thy song?Who followed over moss and twisted roots,
And pushed through the wet leaves of trailing vines
Where slanting sunbeams gleamed uncertainly,
While ever clearer came the dropping notes,
Until, at last, two widening trunks disclosed
Thee singing on a spray of branching beech,
Hidden, then seen; and always that same song
Of joyful sweetness, rapture incarnate,
Filled the hushed, rustling stillness of the wood?We do not know what bird thou art. Perhaps
That fairy bird, fabled in island tale,
Who never sings but once, and then his song
Is of such fearful beauty that he dies
From sheer exuberance of melody.For this they took thee, little bird, for this
They captured thee, tilting among the leaves,
And stamped thee for a symbol on this book.
For it contains a song surpassing thine,
Richer, more sweet, more poignant. And the poet
Who felt this burning beauty, and whose heart
Was full of loveliest things, sang all he knew
A little while, and then he died; too frail
To bear this untamed, passionate burst of song.
Their inspiration, hers the sympathy
Which spurs them on to any great endeavor,
To them the fields and woods are closest friends,
And they hold dear communion with the hills;
The voice of waters soothes them with its fall,
And the great winds bring healing in their sound.
To them a city is a prison house
Where pent up human forces labour and strive,
Where beauty dwells not, driven forth by man;
But where in winter they must live until
Summer gives back the spaces of the hills.
To me it is not so. I love the earth
And all the gifts of her so lavish hand:
Sunshine and flowers, rivers and rushing winds,
Thick branches swaying in a winter storm,
And moonlight playing in a boat’s wide wake;
But more than these, and much, ah, how much more,
I love the very human heart of man.
Above me spreads the hot, blue mid-day sky,
Far down the hillside lies the sleeping lake
Lazily reflecting back the sun,
And scarcely ruffled by the little breeze
Which wanders idly through the nodding ferns.
The blue crest of the distant mountain, tops
The green crest of the hill on which I sit;
And it is summer, glorious, deep-toned summer,
The very crown of nature’s changing year
When all her surging life is at its full.
To me alone it is a time of pause,
A void and silent space between two worlds,
When inspiration lags, and feeling sleeps,
Gathering strength for efforts yet to come.
For life alone is creator of life,
And closest contact with the human world
Is like a lantern shining in the night
To light me to a knowledge of myself.
I love the vivid life of winter months
In constant intercourse with human minds,
When every new experience is gain
And on all sides we feel the great world’s heart;
The pulse and throb of life which makes us men!
Teatro Bambino. Dublin, N. H.
How still it is! Sunshine itself here falls
In quiet shafts of light through the high trees
Which, arching, make a roof above the walls
Changing from sun to shadow as each breeze
Lingers a moment, charmed by the strange sight
Of an Italian theatre, storied, seer
Of vague romance, and time’s long history;
Where tiers of grass-grown seats sprinkled with white,
Sweet-scented clover, form a broken sphere
Grouped round the stage in hushed expectancy.
What sound is that which echoes through the wood?
Is it the reedy note of an oaten pipe?
Perchance a minute more will see the brood
Of the shaggy forest god, and on his lip
Will rest the rushes he is wont to play.
His train in woven baskets bear ripe fruit
And weave a dance with ropes of gray acorns,
So light their touch the grasses scarcely sway
As they the measure tread to the lilting flute.
Alas! ‘t is only Fancy thus adorns.
A cloud drifts idly over the shining sun.
How damp it seems, how silent, still, and strange!
Surely ‘t was here some tragedy was done,
And here the chorus sang each coming change?
Sure this is deep in some sweet, southern wood,
These are not pines, but cypress tall and dark;
That is no thrush which sings so rapturously,
But the nightingale in his most passionate mood
Bursting his little heart with anguish. Hark!
The tread of sandalled feet comes noiselessly.
The silence almost is a sound, and dreams
Take on the semblances of finite things;
So potent is the spell that what but seems
Elsewhere, is lifted here on Fancy’s wings.
The little woodland theatre seems to wait,
All tremulous with hope and wistful joy,
For something that is sure to come at last,
Some deep emotion, satisfying, great.
It grows a living presence, bold and shy,
Cradling the future in a glorious past.
Like the flames of uncontrolled candles.
But when I go to warm my hands,
My clumsiness overturns the light,
and then I stumble
Against the tables and chairs.
The Crescent Moon
Little horned, happy moon,
Can you hear me up so high?
Will you come down soon?On my nursery window-sill
Will you stay your steady flight?
And then float away with me
Through the summer night?Brushing over tops of trees,
Playing hide and seek with stars,
Peeping up through shiny clouds
At Jupiter or Mars.I shall fill my lap with roses
Gathered in the milky way,
All to carry home to mother.
Oh! what will she say!Little rocking, sailing moon,
Do you hear me shout — Ahoy!
Just a little nearer, moon,
To please a little boy.
I hear your words in mournful cadence toll
Like some slow passing-bell which warns the soul
Of sundering darkness. Unrelenting, fain
To batter down resistance, fall again
Stroke after stroke, insistent diastole,
The bitter blows of truth, until the whole
Is hammered into fact made strangely plain.
Where shall I look for comfort? Not to you.
Our worlds are drawn apart, our spirit’s suns
Divided, and the light of mine burnt dim.
Now in the haunted twilight I must do
Your will. I grasp the cup which over-runs,
And with my trembling lips I touch the rim.
The Fool Errant
And his gaze wandered up and his gaze wandered down,
A vigorous youth, but with no wish to walk,
Yet his longing was great for the distant town.He whistled a little frivolous tune
Which he felt to be pulsing with ecstasy,
For he thought that success always followed desire,
Such a very superlative fool was he.A maiden came by on an ambling mule,
Her gown was rose-red and her kerchief blue,
On her lap she carried a basket of eggs.
Thought the fool, “There is certainly room for two.”So he jauntily swaggered towards the maidAnd put out his hand to the bridle-rein.
“My pretty girl,” quoth the fool, “take me up,
For to ride with you to the town I am fain.”But the maiden struck at his upraised arm
And pelted him hotly with eggs, a score.
The mule, lashed into a fury, ran;
The fool went back to his stone and swore.Then out of the cloud of settling dust
The burly form of an abbot appeared,
Reading his office he rode to the town.
And the fool got up, for his heart was cheered.
He stood in the midst of the long, white road
And swept off his cap till it touched the ground.
“Ah, Reverent Sir, well met,” said the fool,
“A worthier transport never was found.
“I pray you allow me to mount with you,
Your palfrey seems both sturdy and young.”
The abbot looked up from the holy book
And cried out in anger, “Hold your tongue!
“How dare you obstruct the King’s highroad,
You saucy varlet, get out of my way.”
Then he gave the fool a cut with his whip
And leaving him smarting, he rode away.
The fool was angry, the fool was sore,
And he cursed the folly of monks and maids.
“If I could but meet with a man,” sighed the fool,
“For a woman fears, and a friar upbraids.”
Then he saw a flashing of distant steel
And the clanking of harness greeted his ears,
And up the road journeyed knights-at-arms,
With waving plumes and glittering spears.
The fool took notice and slowly arose,
Not quite so sure was his foolish heart.
If priests and women would none of him
Was it likely a knight would take his part?
They sang as they rode, these lusty boys,
When one chanced to turn toward the highway’s side,
“There’s a sorry figure of fun,” jested he,
“Well, Sirrah! move back, there is scarce room to ride.”
“Good Sirs, Kind Sirs,” begged the crestfallen fool,
“I pray of your courtesy speech with you,
I’m for yonder town, and have no horse to ride,
Have you never a charger will carry two?”
Then the company halted and laughed out loud.
“Was such a request ever made to a knight?”
“And where are your legs,” asked one, “if you start,
You may be inside the town gates to-night.”
“‘T is a lazy fellow, let him alone,
They’ve no room in the town for such idlers as he.”
But one bent from his saddle and said, “My man,
Art thou not ashamed to beg charity!
“Thou art well set up, and thy legs are strong,
But it much misgives me lest thou’rt a fool;
For beggars get only a beggar’s crust,
Wise men are reared in a different school.”
Then they clattered away in the dust and the wind,
And the fool slunk back to his lonely stone;
He began to see that the man who asks
Must likewise give and not ask alone.
Purple tree-shadows crept over the road,
The level sun flung an orange light,
And the fool laid his head on the hard, gray stone
And wept as he realized advancing night.
A great, round moon rose over a hill
And the steady wind blew yet more cool;
And crouched on a stone a wayfarer sobbed,
For at last he knew he was only a fool.
The Fruit Garden Path
A moonlit path, hemmed in by beds of bloom,
Where phlox and marigolds dispute for room
With tall, red dahlias and the briar rose.
‘T is reckless prodigality which throws
Into the night these wafts of rich perfume
Which sweep across the garden like a plume.
Over the trees a single bright star glows.
Dear garden of my childhood, here my years
Have run away like little grains of sand;
The moments of my life, its hopes and fears
Have all found utterance here, where now I stand;
My eyes ache with the weight of unshed tears,
You are my home, do you not understand?
The Garden by Moonlight
Phlox, lilac-misted under a first-quarter moon,
The sweet smells of heliotrope and night-scented stock.
The garden is very still,
It is dazed with moonlight,
Contented with perfume,
Dreaming the opium dreams of its folded poppies.
Firefly lights open and vanish
High as the tip buds of the golden glow
Low as the sweet alyssum flowers at my feet.
Moon-shimmer on leaves and trellises,
Moon-spikes shafting through the snowball bush.
Only the little faces of the ladies’ delight are alert and staring,
Only the cat, padding between the roses,
Shakes a branch and breaks the chequered pattern
As water is broken by the falling of a leaf.
Then you come,
And you are quiet like the garden,
And white like the alyssum flowers,
And beautiful as the silent sparks of the fireflies.
Ah, Beloved, do you see those orange lilies?
They knew my mother,
But who belonging to me will they know
When I am gone.
The Green Bowl
In a Spring wood, where dogtooth violets grow
Nodding in chequered sunshine of the trees;
A quiet place, still, with the sound of birds,
Where, though unseen, is heard the endless song
And murmur of the never resting sea.
‘T was winter, Roger, when you made this cup,
But coming Spring guided your eager hand
And round the edge you fashioned young green leaves,
A proper chalice made to hold the shy
And little flowers of the woods. And here
They will forget their sad uprooting, lost
In pleasure that this circle of bright leaves
Should be their setting; once more they will dream
They hear winds wandering through lofty trees
And see the sun smiling between the leaves.
“Say, Alice, gi’ me a couple
O’ them two for five cigars,
“Where’s your nickel?”
“My! Ain’t you close!
Can’t trust a feller, can yer.”
“Trust you! Why
What you owe this store
Would set you up in business.
I can’t think why Father ‘lows it.”
“Yer Father’s a sight more neighbourly
Than you be. That’s a fact.
Besides, he knows I got a vote.”
“A vote! Oh, yes, you got a vote!
A lot o’ good the Senate’ll be to Father
When all his bank account
Has run away in credits.
There’s your cigars,
If you can relish smokin’
With all you owe us standin’.”
“I dunno as that makes ’em taste any diff’rent.
You ain’t fair to me, Alice, ‘deed you ain’t.
I work when anythin’s doin’.
I’ll get a carpenterin’ job next Summer sure.
Cleve was tellin’ me to-day he’d take me on come Spring.”
“Come Spring, and this December!
I’ve no patience with you, Leon,
Shilly-shallyin’ the way you do.
Here, lift over them crates o’ oranges
I wanter fix ’em in the winder.”
“It riles yer, don’t it, me not havin’ work.
You pepper up about it somethin’ good.
You pick an’ pick, and that don’t help a mite.
Say, Alice, do come in out o’ that winder.
Th’ oranges c’n wait,
An’ I don’t like talkin’ to yer back.”
“Don’t you! Well, you’d better make the best o’ what
you can git.
Maybe you won’t have my back to talk to soon.
They look good in pyramids with the ‘lectric light on ’em,
Now hand me them bananas
An’ I’ll string ’em right acrost.”
“What do yer mean
‘Bout me not havin’ you to talk to?
Are yer springin’ somethin’ on me?”
“I don’t know ’bout springin’
When I’m tellin’ you right out.
I’m goin’ away, that’s all.”
What yer mean — goin’ away?”
“I’ve took a place
Down to Boston, in a candy store
For the holidays.”
“Good Land, Alice,
What in the Heavens fer!”
“To earn some money,
And to git away from here, I guess.”
“Ain’t yer Father got enough?
Don’t he give yer proper pocket-money?”
“He’d have a plenty, if you folks paid him.”
“He’s rich I tell yer.
I never figured he’d be close with you.”
“Oh, he ain’t. Not close.
That ain’t why.
But I must git away from here.
I must! I must!”
“You got a lot o’ reason in yer
How long d’ you cal’late
You’ll be gone?”
“Maybe for always.”
“What ails yer, Alice?
Talkin’ wild like that.
Ain’t you an’ me goin’ to be married
“Some day! Some day!
I guess the sun’ll never rise on some day.”
“So that’s the trouble.
Same old story.
‘Cause I ain’t got the cash to settle right now.
You know I love yer,
An’ I’ll marry yer as soon
As I c’n raise the money.”
“You’ve said that any time these five year,
But you don’t do nothin’.”
“Wot could I do?
Ther ain’t no work here Winters.
Not fer a carpenter, ther ain’t.”
“I guess you warn’t born a carpenter.
Ther’s ice-cuttin’ a plenty.”
“I got a dret’ful tender throat;
Dr. Smiles he told me
I mustn’t resk ice-cuttin’.”
“Why haven’t you gone to Boston,
And hunted up a job?”
“Have yer forgot the time I went expressin’
In the American office, down ther?”
“And come back two weeks later!
No, I ain’t.”
“You didn’t want I should git hurted,
I’m a sight too light fer all that liftin’ work.
My back was commencin’ to strain, as ’twas.
Ef I was like yer brother now,
I’d ha’ be’n down to the city long ago.
But I’m too clumsy fer a dancer.
I ain’t got Arthur’s luck.”
“Do you call it luck to be a disgrace to your folks,
And git locked up in jail!”
“Oh, come now, Alice,
`Disgrace’ is a mite strong.
Why, the jail was a joke.
Art’s all right.”
All right to dance, and smirk, and lie
For a livin’,
And then in the end
Lead a silly girl to give you
What warn’t hers to give
By pretendin’ you’d marry her —
And she a pupil.”
“He’d ha’ married her right enough,
Her folks was millionaires.”
“Yes, he’d ha’ married her!
Thank God, they saved her that.”
“Art’s a fine feller.
I wish I had his luck.
Swellin’ round in Hart, Schaffner & Marx fancy suits,
And eatin’ in rest’rants.
But somebody’s got to stick to the old place,
Else Foxfield’d have to shut up shop,
“You admire him!
You admire Arthur!
You’d be like him only you can’t dance.
Oh, Shame! Shame!
And I’ve been like that silly girl.
Fooled with your promises,
And I give you all I had.
I knew it, oh, I knew it,
But I wanted to git away ‘fore I proved it.
You’ve shamed me through and through.
Why couldn’t you hold your tongue,
And spared me seein’ you
As you really are.”
“What the Devil’s the row?
I only said Art was lucky.
What you spitfirin’ at me fer?
Ferget it, Alice.
We’ve had good times, ain’t we?
I’ll see Cleve ’bout that job agin to-morrer,
And we’ll be married ‘fore hayin’ time.”
“It’s like you to remind me o’ hayin’ time.
I’ve good cause to love it, ain’t I?
Many’s the night I’ve hid my face in the dark
To shut out thinkin’!”
“Why, that ain’t nothin’.
You ain’t be’n half so kind to me
As lots o’ fellers’ girls.
Gi’ me a kiss, Dear,
And let’s make up.”
You poor fool.
Do you suppose I care a ten cent piece
For you now.
You’ve killed yourself for me.
Done it out o’ your own mouth.
You’ve took away my home,
I hate the sight o’ the place.
You’re all over it,
Every stick an’ stone means you,
An’ I hate ’em all.”
“Alice, I say,
Don’t go on like that.
I can’t marry yer
Boardin’ in one room,
But I’ll see Cleve to-morrer,
I’ll make him —-”
“Oh, you fool!
You terrible fool!”
“Alice, don’t go yit,
Wait a minit,
I’ll see Cleve —-”
“You terrible fool!”
“Alice, don’t go.
Alice —-” (Door slams)
The Lamp of Life
Always the light recedes; with groping hands
We stretch toward this glory, while the lands
We journey through are hidden from our sight
Dim and mysterious, folded deep in night,
We care not, all our utmost need demands
Is but the light, the light! So still it stands
Surely our own if we exert our might.
Fool! Never can’st thou grasp this fleeting gleam,
Its glowing flame would die if it were caught,
Its value is that it doth always seem
But just a little farther on. Distraught,
But lighted ever onward, we are brought
Upon our way unknowing, in a dream.