Amy Lowell Poems Part 4

Amy Lowell,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 Poems Part 4

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.

Amy Lowell Poems Part 4
Amy Lowell Poems

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 4

The Letter

Little cramped words scrawling all over
the paper
Like draggled fly’s legs,
What can you tell of the flaring moon
Through the oak leaves?
Or of my uncertain window and the
bare floorSpattered with moonlight?
Your silly quirks and twists have nothing
in them
Of blossoming hawthorns,
And this paper is dull, crisp, smooth,
virgin of loveliness
Beneath my hand.I am tired, Beloved, of chafing my heart
against
The want of you;
Of squeezing it into little inkdrops,
And posting it.
And I scald alone, here, under the fire
Of the great moon.

Amy Lowell Poems
Amy Lowell Poems

The Little Garden

A little garden on a bleak hillside
Where deep the heavy, dazzling mountain snow
Lies far into the spring. The sun’s pale glow
Is scarcely able to melt patches wide
About the single rose bush. All denied
Of nature’s tender ministries. But no, —
For wonder-working faith has made it blow
With flowers many hued and starry-eyed.
Here sleeps the sun long, idle summer hours;
Here butterflies and bees fare far to rove
Amid the crumpled leaves of poppy flowers;
Here four o’clocks, to the passionate night above
Fling whiffs of perfume, like pale incense showers.
A little garden, loved with a great love!

Amy Lowell Poems
Amy Lowell Poems

The Matrix

Goaded and harassed in the factory
That tears our life up into bits of days
Ticked off upon a clock which never stays,
Shredding our portion of Eternity,
We break away at last, and steal the key
Which hides a world empty of hours; ways
Of space unroll, and Heaven overlays
The leafy, sun-lit earth of Fantasy.
Beyond the ilex shadow glares the sun,
Scorching against the blue flame of the sky.
Brown lily-pads lie heavy and supine
Within a granite basin, under one
The bronze-gold glimmer of a carp; and I
Reach out my hand and pluck a nectarine.
Amy Lowell Poems
Amy Lowell Poems

The Painted Ceiling

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 and all,
I like the green dining-room so much the best
Because of its ceiling and wall.Right over your head is a funny round hole
With apples and pears falling through;
There’s a big bunch of grapes all purply and sweet,
And melons and pineapples too.

They tumble and tumble, but never come down
Though I’ve stood underneath a long while
With my mouth open wide, for I always have hoped
Just a cherry would drop from the pile.

No matter how early I run there to look
It has always begun to fall through;
And one night when at bedtime I crept in to see,
It was falling by candle-light too.

I am sure they are magical fruits, and each one
Makes you hear things, or see things, or go
Forever invisible; but it’s no use,
And of course I shall just never know.

For the ladder’s too heavy to lift, and the chairs
Are not nearly so tall as I need.
I’ve given up hope, and I feel I shall die
Without having accomplished the deed.

It’s a little bit sad, when you seem very near
To adventures and things of that sort,
Which nearly begin, and then don’t; and you know
It is only because you are short.

Amy Lowell Poems Part 3
Amy Lowell Poems

The Pleiades

By day you cannot see the sky
For it is up so very high.
You look and look, but it’s so blue
That you can never see right through.But when night comes it is quite plain,
And all the stars are there again.
They seem just like old friends to me,
I’ve known them all my life you see.There is the dipper first, and there
Is Cassiopeia in her chair,
Orion’s belt, the Milky Way,
And lots I know but cannot say.

One group looks like a swarm of bees,
Papa says they’re the Pleiades;
But I think they must be the toy
Of some nice little angel boy.

Perhaps his jackstones which to-day
He has forgot to put away,
And left them lying on the sky
Where he will find them bye and bye.

I wish he’d come and play with me.
We’d have such fun, for it would be
A most unusual thing for boys
To feel that they had stars for toys!

Amy Lowell Poems
Amy Lowell Poems

The Poet

What instinct forces man to journey on,
Urged by a longing blind but dominant!
Nothing he sees can hold him, nothing daunt
His never failing eagerness. The sun
Setting in splendour every night has won
His vassalage; those towers flamboyant
Of airy cloudland palaces now haunt
His daylight wanderings. Forever done
With simple joys and quiet happiness
He guards the vision of the sunset sky;
Though faint with weariness he must possess
Some fragment of the sunset’s majesty;
He spurns life’s human friendships to profess
Life’s loneliness of dreaming ecstasy.
Amy Lowell Poems
Amy Lowell Poems

The Promise of the Morning Star

Thou father of the children of my brain
By thee engendered in my willing heart,
How can I thank thee for this gift of art
Poured out so lavishly, and not in vain.What thou created never more can die,
Thy fructifying power lives in me
And I conceive, knowing it is by thee,
Dear other parent of my poetry!For I was but a shadow with a name,
Perhaps by now the very name’s forgot;
So strange is Fate that it has been my lot
To learn through thee the presence of that aim

Which evermore must guide me. All unknown,
By me unguessed, by thee not even dreamed,
A tree has blossomed in a night that seemed
Of stubborn, barren wood. For thou hast sown

This seed of beauty in a ground of truth.
Humbly I dedicate myself, and yet
I tremble with a sudden fear to set
New music ringing through my fading youth.

Amy Lowell Poems Part 1
Amy Lowell Poems

The Road to Avignon

A Minstrel stands on a marble stair,
Blown by the bright wind, debonair;
Below lies the sea, a sapphire floor,
Above on the terrace a turret door
Frames a lady, listless and wan,
But fair for the eye to rest upon.
The minstrel plucks at his silver strings,
And looking up to the lady, sings: —
Down the road to Avignon,
The long, long road to Avignon,
Across the bridge to Avignon,
One morning in the spring.

The octagon tower casts a shade
Cool and gray like a cutlass blade;
In sun-baked vines the cicalas spin,
The little green lizards run out and in.
A sail dips over the ocean’s rim,
And bubbles rise to the fountain’s brim.
The minstrel touches his silver strings,
And gazing up to the lady, sings: —
Down the road to Avignon,
The long, long road to Avignon,
Across the bridge to Avignon,
One morning in the spring.

Slowly she walks to the balustrade,
Idly notes how the blossoms fade
In the sun’s caress; then crosses where
The shadow shelters a carven chair.
Within its curve, supine she lies,
And wearily closes her tired eyes.
The minstrel beseeches his silver strings,
And holding the lady spellbound, sings: —
Down the road to Avignon,
The long, long road to Avignon,
Across the bridge to Avignon,
One morning in the spring.

Clouds sail over the distant trees,
Petals are shaken down by the breeze,
They fall on the terrace tiles like snow;
The sighing of waves sounds, far below.
A humming-bird kisses the lips of a rose
Then laden with honey and love he goes.
The minstrel woos with his silver strings,
And climbing up to the lady, sings: —
Down the road to Avignon,
The long, long road to Avignon,
Across the bridge to Avignon,
One morning in the spring.

Step by step, and he comes to her,
Fearful lest she suddenly stir.
Sunshine and silence, and each to each,
The lute and his singing their only speech;
He leans above her, her eyes unclose,
The humming-bird enters another rose.
The minstrel hushes his silver strings.
Hark! The beating of humming-birds’ wings!
Down the road to Avignon,
The long, long road to Avignon,
Across the bridge to Avignon,
One morning in the spring.

Amy Lowell Poems Part 2
Amy Lowell Poems

The Starling

Forever the impenetrable wall
Of self confines my poor rebellious soul,
I never see the towering white clouds roll
Before a sturdy wind, save through the small
Barred window of my jail. I live a thrall
With all my outer life a clipped, square hole,
Rectangular; a fraction of a scroll
Unwound and winding like a worsted ball.
My thoughts are grown uneager and depressed
Through being always mine, my fancy’s wings
Are moulted and the feathers blown away.
I weary for desires never guessed,
For alien passions, strange imaginings,
To be some other person for a day.
Amy Lowell Poems
Amy Lowell Poems

The taxi

When I go away from you
The world beats dead
Like a slackened drum.
I call out for you against the jutted stars
And shout into the ridges of the wind.
Streets coming fast,
One after the other,
Wedge you away from me,
ANd the lamps of the city prick my eyes
So that I can no longer see your face.
Why should I leave you,
To wound myself upon the sharp edges of the night?
Amy Lowell Poems
Amy Lowell Poems

The Trout

Naughty little speckled trout,
Can’t I coax you to come out?
Is it such great fun to play
In the water every day?Do you pull the Naiads’ hair
Hiding in the lilies there?
Do you hunt for fishes’ eggs,
Or watch tadpoles grow their legs?Do the little trouts have school
In some deep sun-glinted pool,
And in recess play at tag
Round that bed of purple flag?

I have tried so hard to catch you,
Hours and hours I’ve sat to watch you;
But you never will come out,
Naughty little speckled trout!

Amy Lowell Poems
Amy Lowell Poems

The Way

At first a mere thread of a footpath half blotted out by the grasses
Sweeping triumphant across it, it wound between hedges of roses
Whose blossoms were poised above leaves as pond lilies float on the water,
While hidden by bloom in a hawthorn a bird filled the morning with singing.It widened a highway, majestic, stretching ever to distant horizons,
Where shadows of tree-branches wavered, vague outlines invaded by sunshine;
No sound but the wind as it whispered the secrets of earth to the flowers,
And the hum of the yellow bees, honey-laden and dusty with pollen.
And Summer said, “Come, follow onward, with no thought save the longing to wander,
The wind, and the bees, and the flowers, all singing the great song of Nature,
Are minstrels of change and of promise, they herald the joy of the Future.”Later the solitude vanished, confused and distracted the road
Where many were seeking and jostling. Left behind were the trees and the flowers,
The half-realized beauty of quiet, the sacred unconscious communing.
And now he is come to a river, a line of gray, sullen water,
Not blue and splashing, but dark, rolling somberly on to the ocean.
But on the far side is a city whose windows flame gold in the sunset.
It lies fair and shining before him, a gem set betwixt sky and water,
And spanning the river a bridge, frail promise to longing desire,
Flung by man in his infinite courage, across the stern force of the water;
And he looks at the river and fears, the bridge is so slight, yet he ventures
His life to its fragile keeping, if it fails the waves will engulf him.
O Arches! be strong to uphold him, and bear him across to the city,
The beautiful city whose spires still glow with the fires of sunset!

Amy Lowell Poems Part 3
Amy Lowell Poems

The Wind

He shouts in the sails of the ships at sea,
He steals the down from the honeybee,
He makes the forest trees rustle and sing,
He twirls my kite till it breaks its string.
Laughing, dancing, sunny wind,
Whistling, howling, rainy wind,
North, South, East and West,
Each is the wind I like the best.
He calls up the fog and hides the hills,
He whirls the wings of the great windmills,
The weathercocks love him and turn to discover
His whereabouts — but he’s gone, the rover!
Laughing, dancing, sunny wind,
Whistling, howling, rainy wind,
North, South, East and West,
Each is the wind I like the best.The pine trees toss him their cones with glee,
The flowers bend low in courtesy,
Each wave flings up a shower of pearls,
The flag in front of the school unfurls.
Laughing, dancing, sunny wind,
Whistling, howling, rainy wind,
North, South, East and West,
Each is the wind I like the best.
Amy Lowell Poems
Amy Lowell Poems

To a Friend

I ask but one thing of you, only one,
That always you will be my dream of you;
That never shall I wake to find untrue
All this I have believed and rested on,
Forever vanished, like a vision gone
Out into the night. Alas, how few
There are who strike in us a chord we knew
Existed, but so seldom heard its tone
We tremble at the half-forgotten sound.
The world is full of rude awakenings
And heaven-born castles shattered to the ground,
Yet still our human longing vainly clings
To a belief in beauty through all wrongs.
O stay your hand, and leave my heart its songs!
Amy Lowell Poems
Amy Lowell Poems

To an Early Daffodil

Thou yellow trumpeter of laggard Spring!
Thou herald of rich Summer’s myriad flowers!
The climbing sun with new recovered powers
Does warm thee into being, through the ring
Of rich, brown earth he woos thee, makes thee fling
Thy green shoots up, inheriting the dowers
Of bending sky and sudden, sweeping showers,
Till ripe and blossoming thou art a thing
To make all nature glad, thou art so gay;
To fill the lonely with a joy untold;
Nodding at every gust of wind to-day,
To-morrow jewelled with raindrops. Always bold
To stand erect, full in the dazzling play
Of April’s sun, for thou hast caught his gold.
Amy Lowell Poems Part 1
Amy Lowell Poems

To Elizabeth Ward Perkins

Dear Bessie, would my tired rhyme
Had force to rise from apathy,
And shaking off its lethargy
Ring word-tones like a Christmas chime.

But in my soul’s high belfry, chill
The bitter wind of doubt has blown,
The summer swallows all have flown,
The bells are frost-bound, mute and still.

Upon the crumbling boards the snow
Has drifted deep, the clappers hang
Prismed with icicles, their clang
Unheard since ages long ago.

The rope I pull is stiff and cold,
My straining ears detect no sound
Except a sigh, as round and round
The wind rocks through the timbers old.

Below, I know the church is bright
With haloed tapers, warm with prayer;
But here I only feel the air
Of icy centuries of night.

Beneath my feet the snow is lit
And gemmed with colours, red, and blue,
Topaz, and green, where light falls through
The saints that in the windows sit.

Here darkness seems a spectred thing,
Voiceless and haunting, while the stars
Mock with a light of long dead years
The ache of present suffering.

Silent and winter-killed I stand,
No carol hymns my debt to you;
But take this frozen thought in lieu,
And thaw its music in your hand.

Amy Lowell Poems Part 2
Amy Lowell Poems

To John Keats

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 when earth was young,
Scattering wreaths of stars, as Jove once flung
A golden shower from heights cerulean.
Crumbled before thy majesty we bow.
Forget thy empurpled state, thy panoply
Of greatness, and be merciful and near;
A youth who trudged the highroad we tread now
Singing the miles behind him; so may we
Faint throbbings of thy music overhear.
Amy Lowell Poems
Amy Lowell Poems

Two Lacquer Prints

The Emperor’s Garden

ONCE, in the sultry heat of midsummer,
An Emperor caused the miniature mountains in his garden
To be covered with white silk,
That so crowned,
They might cool his eyes
With the sparkle of snow.

Meditation

A wise man,
Watching the stars pass across the sky,
Remarked:
In the upper air the fireflies move more slowly.

Amy Lowell Poems
Amy Lowell Poems

Venetian Glass

As one who sails upon a wide, blue sea
Far out of sight of land, his mind intent
Upon the sailing of his little boat,
On tightening ropes and shaping fair his course,
Hears suddenly, across the restless sea,
The rhythmic striking of some towered clock,
And wakes from thoughtless idleness to time:
Time, the slow pulse which beats eternity!
So through the vacancy of busy life
At intervals you cross my path and bring
The deep solemnity of passing years.
For you I have shed bitter tears, for you
I have relinquished that for which my heart
Cried out in selfish longing. And to-night
Having just left you, I can say: “‘T is well.
Thank God that I have known a soul so true,
So nobly just, so worthy to be loved!”
Amy Lowell Poems
Amy Lowell Poems

Venus Transiens

Tell me,
Was Venus more beautiful
Than you are,
When she topped
The crinkled waves,
Drifting shoreward
On her plaited shell?
Was Botticelli’s vision
Fairer than mine;
And were the painted rosebuds
He tossed his lady,
Of better worth
Than the words I blow about you
To cover your too great loveliness
As with a gauze
Of misted silver?
For me
You stand poised
In the blue and buoyant air,
Cinctured by bright winds,
Treading the sunlight.
And the waves which precede you
Ripple and stir
The sands at my feet.
Amy Lowell Poems Part 3
Amy Lowell Poems

White Currants

Shall I give you white currants?
I do not know why, but I have a sudden fancy for this fruit.
At the moment, the idea of them cherishes my senses,
And they seem more desirable than flawless emeralds.
Since I am, in fact, empty-handed,
I might have chosen gems out of India,
But I choose white currants.
Is it because the raucous wind is hurtling round the house-corners?
I see it with curled lips and stripped fangs, gaunt and haunting energy,
Come to snout, and nibble, and kill the little crocus roots.
Shall we call it white currants?
You may consider it as a symbol if you pelase.
You may find them tart, or sweet, or merely agreeable in colour,
So long as you accept them,
And me.
Amy Lowell Poems
Amy Lowell Poems

Women’s harvest song

I am waving a ripe sunflower,
I am scattering sunflower pollen to the four world-quarters.
I am joyful because of my melons,
I am joyful because of my beans,
I am joyful because of my squashes.The sunflower waves.
So did the corn wave
When the wind blew against it,
So did my white corn bend
When the red lightning descended upon it,
It trembled as the sunflower
When the rain beat down its leaves.Great is a ripe sunflower,
And great was the sun above my corn-fields.
His fingers lifted up the corn-ears,
His hands fashioned my melons,
And set my beans full in the pods.
Therefore my heart is happy
And I will lay many blue prayer-sticks at the shrine of Ta-wa.
I will give corn to Ta-wa,
Yellow corn, blue corn, black corn.
I wave the sunflower,
The sunflower heavy with pollen.
I wave it, I turn it, I sing,
Because I am happy.

Amy Lowell Poems
Amy Lowell Poems

Women’s song of the corn

How beautiful are the corn rows,
Stretching to the morning sun,
Stretching to the evening sun.
Very beautiful, the long rows of corn.How beautiful is the white corn,
I husk it,
I grind it.
Very beautiful, my white corn.How beautiful is the red corn,
I gather it and make fine meal,
I am glad doing this.
Very beautiful, my red corn.

How beautiful is the black corn,
I give it to my father,
To my mother,
I give it to my child.
Very beautiful, the black corn.

How beautiful is the mottled corn,
Like the sky with little clouds,
I eat it looking at the sky.
Very beautiful, my mottled corn.

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