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A Boston Brahmin, a poet, a woman in love, she was all this and more.

Amy Lowell dressed mannishly, in severe suits and men's shirts. She wore a pince nez and had her hair done -- usually by Ada Russell -- in a pompadour that added a bit of height to her five feet. She slept on a custom-made bed with exactly sixteen pillows.

She kept sheepdogs -- at least until World War I's meat rationing made her give them up -- and had to give guests towels to put in their laps to protect them from the dogs' affectionate habits. She draped mirrors and stopped clocks. And, perhaps most famously, she smoked cigars -- not "big, black" ones as was sometimes reported, but small cigars, which she claimed were less distracting to her work than cigarettes, because they lasted longer.

In , she published another volume of her own verse, Men, Women and Ghosts. A book derived from her lectures, Tendencies in Modern American Poetry followed in , then another poetry collection in , Can Grande's Castle and Pictures of the Floating World in and adaptations of myths and legends in in Legends. During an illness in she wrote and published A Critical Fable -- anonymously.

For some months she denied that she'd written it. Her relative, James Russell Lowell, had published in his generation A Fable for Critics , witty and pointed verse analyzing poets who were his contemporaries.

American Poet and Imagist

Amy Lowell's A Critical Fable likewise skewered her own poetic contemporaries. Amy Lowell worked for the next few years on a massive biography of John Keats, whose works she'd been collecting since Almost a day-by-day account of his life, the book also recognized Fanny Brawne for the first time as a positive influence on him.

This work was taxing on Lowell's health, though.

Amy Lowell In Her Own Words: A One-Woman Play

She nearly ruined her eyesight, and her hernias continued to cause her trouble. In May of , she was advised to remain in bed with a troublesome hernia.

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On May 12 she got out of bed anyway, and was struck with a massive cerebral hemorrhage. She died hours later.

White Heart-Flame of Polished Silver: Amy Lowell and Mary Meriam

Ada Russell, her executrix, not only burned all personal correspondence, as directed by Amy Lowell, but also published three more volumes of Lowell's poems posthumously. These included some late sonnets to Eleanora Duse, who had died in herself, and other poems considered too controversial for Lowell to publish during her lifetime. Lowell left her fortune and Sevenels in trust to Ada Russell. The Imagist movement didn't outlive Amy Lowell for long. Her poems didn't withstand the test of time well, and while a few of her poems "Patterns" and "Lilacs" especially were still studied and anthologized, she was nearly forgotten.

Then, Lillian Faderman and others rediscovered Amy Lowell as an example of poets and others whose same-sex relationships had been important to them in their lives, but who had -- for obvious social reasons -- not been explicit and open about those relationships. Faderman and others re-examined poems like "Clear, With Light Variable Winds" or "Venus Transiens" or "Taxi" or "A Lady" and found the theme -- barely concealed -- of the love of women.

Amy Lowell

The theme had not been completely concealed, of course, especially to those who knew the couple well. John Livingston Lowes, a friend of Amy Lowell's, had recognized Ada as the object of one of her poems, and Lowell wrote back to him, "I am very glad indeed that you liked 'Madonna of the Evening Flowers. And so, too, the portrait of the committed relationship and love of Amy Lowell and Ada Dwyer Russell was largely unrecognized until recently.

Her "Sisters" -- alluding to the sisterhood that included Lowell, Elizabeth Barrett Browning and Emily Dickinson -- makes it clear that Amy Lowell saw herself as part of a continuing tradition of women poets. The Amazon All-Stars Babe! A Brief History Upcoming Productions.


Privacy Policy. This is a poetry reading by the famous Imagist poet herself. We never see her. Throughout these poems, we catch tantalizing glimpses of the muse, but she evades our grasp. I cannot see your face. When I think of you, It is your hands with I see. Your hands Sewing, Holding a book. You stand between the cedars and the green spruces, Brilliantly naked And I think: What are you, A gem under sunlight?

A poised spear? A jade cup?

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  • I put your leaves aside, One by one: The stiff, broad outer leaves; The smaller ones, Pleasant to touch, veined with purple; The glazed inner leaves. One by one I parted you from your leaves, Until you stood up like a white flower Swaying slightly in the evening wind. Here Lowell subverts the centuries-old association of flowers with femininity and romance in order to praise her female lover in audacious homoerotic terms.

    Romance, I thought, would always pass me by, Lovely romance, her fervent, fluttery looks Not meant for me. I turned away, too shy. Then I set eyes on Ada.

    Amy Lowell: American Poet and Imagist

    Through the gloom, The curtain rising, the thunderous applause— Or was the thunder mine alone? Lowell herself aspired to a career as an actress; her public readings were said to be spectacularly dramatic. O moon so close to full this summer night, Under your gaze we glide across the grass, The sleeping flower beds and fountain white Caressed.

    Aroused by light, the lily glass Jiggles and spills her fragrance for the two Of us. We pause along the path, her face So close that there is nothing I can do But kiss her eyes and lips and then retrace My kiss from lips to eyes. However, while Ada appears in these poems as muse and object of passion, her voice remains largely absent.

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    You wrap your voice around, the knot is tight. The knot is tight indeed.