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Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Number 1: Amy Lowell "Falling Snow"

Falling Snow

The snow whispers around me
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.

- Amy Lowell

Hap Notes:
Lowell (1874-1925) isn't usually known for her compression. But I start off this blog with her for several reasons. For one thing I think she's a tad under-rated, possibly because her work is sometimes a bit florid (she called herself an "imagist".)
For another thing I detest the way scraggly old Ezra Pound called her a "Hippopoetess." It's too clever by half and unworthy of a good man which I'm not always sure Pound was, anyhow. Good poet, yes. Man? Not sure. She had some sort of glandular disorder and I find Pound's joke akin to calling a mentally challenged person a "retard" i.e. juvenile. She was from the ultra-rich Bostonian Lowells and was related to James Russell Lowell (and the poet Robert Lowell, who came later, was also related to them both.)
Contemporary collegiate Women's Studies make much of her more-than-likely lesbian relationship with Ada Dwyer Russell. Anything that gets people to reconsider her work is a good thing, I think. I've always been glad she had somebody to love no matter who it was.
She was eccentric, wore suits, smoked little cigars and worked late into the night. Louis Untermeyer said of her work that "
To compensate for the lack of inner warmth, Miss Lowell feverishly agitates all she touches; nothing remains quiescent." She's very sensually descriptive.
She was a proponent of free verse. Many critics carped about her chilled emotions but none of them criticized her descriptive powers. Quite frankly, I think much of the coolness in her emotions is due to her upper-class New England upbringing. One doesn't usually expect them to be fireballs of expressed perfervid emotions, especially women at the turn of the century.
I read her "Patterns" when I was 15 and it's always meant something to me, even as I have aged past the point of adolescent love. I've always liked the passion of "Venetian Glass," and I like "The Starling," too.
The poem selected illustrates that she knew who she was; a monk serving at the temple of poetry.

Here's a great Amy Lowell quote: "Moon! Moon! I am prone before you. Pity me, and drench me in loneliness." Everyone should go out once in a while and drench themselves in the lonliness of the moonlight.

Here's a link to more Lowell:

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