Amy Lowell (February 9 1874 – May 12, 1925) came from the prominent Boston family of Lawrences and Lowells (for whom the cities in Massachusetts are named). A poet of the ‘teens and twenties, she published her first book of poetry in 1912 (as did Robert Frost, who we looked at last week). Her first book was heavily influenced by Keats and was, thus, considered Romantic. After reading Imagist poets such as Hilda Doolittle and Ezra Pound, she too took up the cause of imagism and published three more books in this style. Her later work is considered by some to be more Impressionist that Imagist, but whatever classification is made, her rich, evocative words in poems such as “The Humming-Birds” or “Tomb Valley” are almost cinematic, producing vivid pictures and dance-like motion. Those poems, as well as the one we’re looking at today, come from a volume titled What's O'Clock, for which she posthumously won the Pulitzer Prize for poetry. For a warm summer day, here’s “Summer Night Piece.”
The garden is steeped in moonlight,
Full to its high edges with brimming silver,
And the fish-ponds brim and darken
And run in little serpent lights soon extinguished.
Lily-pads lie upon the surface, beautiful as the tarnishings on frail old silver,
And the Harvest moon droops heavily out of the sky,
A ripe, white melon, intensely, magnificently, shining.
Your window is orange in the moonlight,
It glows like a lamp behind the branches of the old wistaria,
It burns like a lamp before a shrine,
The small, intimate, familiar shrine
Placed reverently among the bricks
Of a much-loved garden wall.
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