David Perkins: On Amy Lowell

In Pictures of the Floating World (1919) Miss Lowell, who felt that volumes of poetry should have a unified character and effect, published the short lyrics she had written and stored up since 1914.

These free-verse lyrics display the qualities for which her work was exemplary at the this time. Her diction and syntax are relatively simple, straightforward, and idiomatic. She renders sensations with exact impression. The poems adhere closely to the concrete, avoiding generalization and "rhetoric." "November" is an example:

The vine leaves against the brick walls of my house Are rusty and broken. Dead leaves gather under the pine-trees, The brittle boughs of lilac-bushes Sweep against the stars. And I sit under a lamp Trying to write down the emptiness of my heart. Even the cat will not stay with me, But prefers the rain Under the meager shelter of a cellar window.

Despite its virtues the poem illustrates how Miss Lowell, like Sandburg, H.D., Aldington, and many other "new" poets, was "modern" only in some aspects of form and style. In sensibility and imagination she was safely within the fold of familiar Romantic convention.


Title David Perkins: On Amy Lowell Type of Content General Poet Criticism
Criticism Author David Perkins Criticism Target Amy Lowell
Criticism Type Poet Originally Posted 12 Jan 2019
Publication Status Excerpted Criticism Publication A History of Modern Poetry: From the 1890s to the High Modernist Mode
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