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Poet Amy Lowell Biography, Poems & Quotes

Classic Poetry

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Biography of Amy Lowell 
  


              
Amy Lawrence Lowell (February 9, 1874óMay 12, 1925) was an American poet of the imagist school from Brookline, Massachusetts who posthumously won the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry in 1926. She was born into Brookline's prominent Lowell family, sister to astronomer Percival Lowell and Harvard president Abbott Lawrence Lowell.

She never attended college because her family did not consider that proper for a woman, but she compensated with avid reading and near-obsessive book-collecting. She lived as a socialite and travelled widely, turning to poetry in 1902 after being inspired by a performance of Eleonora Duse in Europe.

Lowell was said to be lesbian, and in 1912 she and actress Ada Dwyer Russell were reputed to be lovers. Russell is reputed to be the subject of her more erotic work, most notably the love poems contained in 'Two Speak Together', a subsection of Pictures of the Floating World. The two women traveled to England together, where Lowell met Ezra Pound, who at once became a major influence and a major critic of her work. Lowell has been linked romantically to writer Mercedes de Acosta, but the only evidence of any contact between them is a brief correspondence about a planned memorial for Duse.

Her first published work appeared in 1910 in Atlantic Monthly. The first published collection of her poetry, A Dome of Many-Coloured Glass, appeared two years later in 1912. An additional group of uncollected poems was added to the volume The Complete Poetical Works of Amy Lowell, published in 1955 with an introduction by Louis Untermeyer, who considered himself her friend.

Though she sometimes wrote sonnets, Lowell was an early adherent to the "free verse" method of poetry and one of the major champions of this method. Untermeyer writes that "She was not only a disturber but an awakener." In many poems she dispenses with line breaks so that the work looks like prose on the page. This technique she labeled "polyphonic prose".

Throughout her working life Lowell was a promoter of both contemporary and historical poets. Her book Fir-Flower Poets was a poetical re-working of literal translations of the works of ancient Chinese poets, notably Li Tai-po (A.D. 701-762). Her writing also included critical works on French literature. When she died she was attempting to complete her two-volume biography of John Keats. Writing of Keats, Lowell said that "The stigma of oddness is the price a myopic world always exacts of genius."

Lowell died of a cerebral hemorrhage in 1925 at the age of 51. The following year, she was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry for What's O'Clock. That collection included the patriotic poem "Lilacs", which Untermeyer said was the poem of hers he liked best.


Poems By Amy Lowell
12: Wind



Quotes By Amy Lowell
"A man must be sacrificed now and again to provide for the next generation of men."

"All books are either dreams or swords, you can cut, or you can drug, with words."

"Art is the desire of a man to express himself, to record the reactions of his personality to the world he lives in."

"Even Pain pricks to livelier living."

"For books are more than books, they are the life, the very heart and core of ages past, the reason why men worked and died, the essence and quintessence of their lives."

"Happiness, to some, elation; Is, to others, mere stagnation."

"Happiness: We rarely feel it. I would buy it, beg it, steal it, Pay in coins of dripping blood For this one transcendent good."

"Hate is ravening vulture beaks descending on a place of skulls."

"I am tired, beloved, of chafing my heart against the want of you; of squeezing it into little ink drops, and posting it. And I scald alone, here, under the fire of the great moon."

"In science, read by preference the newest works. In literature, read the oldest. The classics are always modern."

"Let the key guns be mounted, make a brave show of waging war, and pry off the lid of Pandora's Box once more."

"Let us be of cheer, remembering that the misfortunes hardest to bear are those which never come."

"Moon! Moon! I am prone before you. Pity me,and drench me in loneliness."

"Sexual love is the most stupendous fact of the universe, and the most magical mystery our poor blind senses know."

"Take everything easy and quit dreaming and brooding and you will be well guarded from a thousand evils."

"There are few things so futile, and few so amusing, As a peaceful and purposeless sort of perusing of old random jottings set down in a blank book you've unearthed from a drawer as you looked for your bank book."

"Time! Joyless emblem of the greed of millions, robber of the best which earth can give."

"You are ice and fire the touch of you burns my hands like snow."

"Youth condemns; maturity condones."