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Best Famous Robert Lowell Poems

Here is a collection of the all-time best famous Robert Lowell poems. This is a select list of the best famous Robert Lowell poetry. Reading, writing, and enjoying famous Robert Lowell poetry (as well as classical and contemporary poems) is a great past time. These top poems are the best examples of robert lowell poems.

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Written by Elizabeth Bishop |

The Armadillo

for Robert Lowell

This is the time of year
when almost every night
the frail, illegal fire balloons appear.
Climbing the mountain height, rising toward a saint still honored in these parts, the paper chambers flush and fill with light that comes and goes, like hearts.
Once up against the sky it's hard to tell them from the stars-- planets, that is--the tinted ones: Venus going down, or Mars, or the pale green one.
With a wind, they flare and falter, wobble and toss; but if it's still they steer between the kite sticks of the Southern Cross, receding, dwindling, solemnly and steadily forsaking us, or, in the downdraft from a peak, suddenly turning dangerous.
Last night another big one fell.
It splattered like an egg of fire against the cliff behind the house.
The flame ran down.
We saw the pair of owls who nest there flying up and up, their whirling black-and-white stained bright pink underneath, until they shrieked up out of sight.
The ancient owls' nest must have burned.
Hastily, all alone, a glistening armadillo left the scene, rose-flecked, head down, tail down, and then a baby rabbit jumped out, short-eared, to our surprise.
So soft!--a handful of intangible ash with fixed, ignited eyes.
Too pretty, dreamlike mimicry! O falling fire and piercing cry and panic, and a weak mailed fist clenched ignorant against the sky!

Written by Elizabeth Bishop |

North Haven

(In Memoriam: Robert Lowell)

I can make out the rigging of a schooner
a mile off; I can count
the new cones on the spruce.
It is so still the pale bay wears a milky skin; the sky no clouds except for one long, carded horse1s tail.
The islands haven't shifted since last summer, even if I like to pretend they have --drifting, in a dreamy sort of way, a little north, a little south, or sidewise, and that they're free within the blue frontiers of bay.
This month, our favorite one is full of flowers: Buttercups, Red Clover, Purple Vetch, Hackweed still burning, Daisies pied, Eyebright, the Fragrant Bedstraw's incandescent stars, and more, returned, to paint the meadows with delight.
The Goldfinches are back, or others like them, and the White-throated Sparrow's five-note song, pleading and pleading, brings tears to the eyes.
Nature repeats herself, or almost does: repeat, repeat, repeat; revise, revise, revise.
Years ago, you told me it was here (in 1932?) you first "discovered girls" and learned to sail, and learned to kiss.
You had "such fun," you said, that classic summer.
("Fun"--it always seemed to leave you at a loss.
) You left North Haven, anchored in its rock, afloat in mystic blue.
And now--you've left for good.
You can't derange, or re-arrange, your poems again.
(But the Sparrows can their song.
) The words won't change again.
Sad friend, you cannot change.

Written by Robert Lowell |


 It was a Maine lobster town—
each morning boatloads of hands
pushed off for granite
quarries on the islands,

and left dozens of bleak 
white frame houses stuck
like oyster shells
on a hill of rock,

and below us, the sea lapped
the raw little match-stick 
mazes of a weir,
where the fish for bait were trapped.
Remember? We sat on a slab of rock.
>From this distance in time it seems the color of iris, rotting and turning purpler, but it was only the usual gray rock turning the usual green when drenched by the sea.
The sea drenched the rock at our feet all day, and kept tearing away flake after flake.
One night you dreamed you were a mermaid clinging to a wharf-pile, and trying to pull off the barnacles with your hands.
We wished our two souls might return like gulls to the rock.
In the end, the water was too cold for us.

More great poems below...

Written by Robert Lowell |


History has to live with what was here,
clutching and close to fumbling all we had--
it is so dull and gruesome how we die,
unlike writing, life never finishes.
Abel was finished; death is not remote, a flash-in-the-pan electrifies the skeptic, his cows crowding like skulls against high-voltage wire, his baby crying all night like a new machine.
As in our Bibles, white-faced, predatory, the beautiful, mist-drunken hunter's moon ascends-- a child could give it a face: two holes, two holes, my eyes, my mouth, between them a skull's no-nose-- O there's a terrifying innocence in my face drenched with the silver salvage of the mornfrost

Written by Robert Lowell |

To Speak of Woe That Is in Marriage

It is the future generation that presses into being by means of these exuberant feelings and supersensible soap bubbles of ours.
Schopenhauer The hot night makes us keep our bedroom windows open.
Our magnolia blossoms.
Life begins to happen.
My hopped up husband drops his home disputes, and hits the streets to cruise for prostitutes, free-lancing out along the razor's edge.
This screwball might kill his wife, then take the pledge.
Oh the monotonous meanness of his lust.
It's the injustice.
he is so unjust- Whiskey-blind, swaggering home at five.
My only thought is how to keep alive.
What makes him trick? Each night now I tie ten dollars and his car key to my thigh.
Gored by the climacteric of his want, he stalls above me like an elephant.

Written by Robert Lowell |


What was is.
since 1930; The boys in my old gang are senior partners.
They start up bald like baby birds to embrace retirement.
At the altar of surrender I met you in the hour of credulity.
How your misfortune came our clearly to us at twenty.
At the gingerbread casino how innocent the nights we made it.
on our Vesuvio martinis with no vermouth but vodka to sweeten the dry gin- the lash across my face that night we adored.
soon every night and all when your sweet amorous repetition changed.

Written by Robert Lowell |

Eye and Tooth

My whole eye was sunset red,
the old cut cornea throbbed,
I saw things darkly,
as through an unwashed goldfish globe.
I lay all day on my bed.
I chain-smoked through the night, learning to flinch at the flash of the matchlight.
Outside, the summer rain, a simmer of rot and renewal, fell in pinpricks.
Even new life is fuel.
My eyes throb.
Nothing can dislodge the house with my first tooth noosed in a knot to the doorknob.
Nothing can dislodge the triangular blotch of rot on the red roof, a cedar hedge, or the shade of a hedge.
No ease from the eye of the sharp-shinned hawk in the birdbook there, with reddish-brown buffalo hair on its shanks, one asectic talon clasping the abstract imperial sky.
It says: an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth.
No ease for the boy at the keyhole, his telescope, when the women's white bodies flashed in the bathroom.
Young, my eyes began to fail.
Nothing! No oil for the eye, nothing to pour on those waters or flames.
I am tired.
Everyone's tired of my turmoil.

Written by Robert Lowell |

The Drunken Fisherman

 Wallowing in this bloody sty,
I cast for fish that pleased my eye
(Truly Jehovah's bow suspends
No pots of gold to weight its ends);
Only the blood-mouthed rainbow trout
Rose to my bait.
They flopped about My canvas creel until the moth Corrupted its unstable cloth.
A calendar to tell the day; A handkerchief to wave away The gnats; a couch unstuffed with storm Pouching a bottle in one arm; A whiskey bottle full of worms; And bedroom slacks: are these fit terms To mete the worm whose molten rage Boils in the belly of old age? Once fishing was a rabbit's foot-- O wind blow cold, O wind blow hot, Let suns stay in or suns step out: Life danced a jig on the sperm-whale's spout-- The fisher's fluent and obscene Catches kept his conscience clean.
Children, the raging memory drools Over the glory of past pools.
Now the hot river, ebbing, hauls Its bloody waters into holes; A grain of sand inside my shoe Mimics the moon that might undo Man and Creation too; remorse, Stinking, has puddled up its source; Here tantrums thrash to a whale's rage.
This is the pot-hole of old age.
Is there no way to cast my hook Out of this dynamited brook? The Fisher's sons must cast about When shallow waters peter out.
I will catch Christ with a greased worm, And when the Prince of Darkness stalks My bloodstream to its Stygian term .
On water the Man-Fisher walks.

Written by Robert Lowell |

The Ruins Of Time

 (Quevedo, Mire los muros de la partia mia and
Buscas en Roma a Roma, (!)O peregrino!)


I saw the musty shingles of my house,
raw wood and fixed once, now a wash of moss
eroded by the ruin of age
furning all fair and green things into waste.
I climbed the pasture.
I saw the dim sun drink the ice just thawing from the boldered fallow, woods crowd the foothills, sieze last summer's field, and higher up, the sickly cattle bellow.
I went into my house.
I saw how dust and ravel had devoured its furnishing; even my cane was withered and more bent, even my sword was coffined up in rust— there was no hilt left for the hand to try.
Everything ached, and told me I must die.
II You search in Rome for Rome? O Traveller! in Rome itself, there is no room for Rome, the Aventine is its own mound and tomb, only a corpse recieves the worshipper.
And where the Capitol once crowned the forum, are medals ruined by the hands of time; they show how more was lost by chance and time the Hannibal or Ceasar could consume.
The Tiber flows still, but its waste laments a city that has fallen in its grave— each wave's a woman beating at her breast.
O Rome! Form all you palms, dominion, bronze and beauty, what was firm has fled.
What once was fugitive maintains its permenance.

Written by Robert Lowell |


 My Dolphin, you only guide me by surprise,
a captive as Racine, the man of craft,
drawn through his maze of iron composition
by the incomparable wandering voice of Ph?dre.
When I was troubled in mind, you made for my body caught in its hangman's-knot of sinking lines, the glassy bowing and scraping of my will.
I have sat and listened to too many words of the collaborating muse, and plotted perhaps too freely with my life, not avoiding injury to others, not avoiding injury to myself-- to ask compassion .
this book, half fiction, an eelnet made by man for the eel fighting my eyes have seen what my hand did.

Written by Robert Lowell |

The Withdrawal

Only today and just for this minute,
when the sunslant finds its true angle,
you can see yellow and pinkish leaves spangle
our gentle, fluffy tree—
suddenly the green summer is momentary.
Autumn is my favorite season— why does it change clothes and withdraw? This week the house went on the market— suddenly I woke up among strangers; when I go into a room, it moves with embarrassment, and joins another room.
I don't need conversation, but you to laugh with— you and a room and a fire, cold starlight blowing through an open window— whither? 2 After sunfall, heaven is melodramatic, a temporary, puckering, burning green.
The patched-up oak and blacker, indelible pines have the indigestible meagerness of spines.
One wishes heaven had less solemnity: a sensual table with five half-filled bottles of red wine set round the hectic carved roast— Bohemia for ourselves and the familiars of a lifetime charmed to communion by resurrection— running together in the rain to mail a single letter, not the chafe and cling of this despondent chaff.
3 Yet for a moment, the children could play truant from their tuition.
4 When I look back, I see a collapsing accordion of my receding houses, and myself receding to a boy of twenty-five or thirty, too shopworn for less, too impressionable for more— blackmaned, illmade in a washed blue workshirt and coalblack trousers, moving from house to house, still seeking a boy's license to see the countryside without arrival.
Hell? Darling, terror in happiness may not cure the hungry future, the time when any illness is chronic, and the years of discretion are spent on complaint— until the wristwatch is taken from the wrist.

Written by Robert Lowell |

Identification In Belfast

Bombing) The British Army now carries two rifles, one with rubber rabbit-pellets for children, the other's of course for the Provisionals.
'When they first showed me the boy, I thought oh good, it's not him because he's blonde— I imagine his hair was singed dark by the bomb.
He had nothing on him to identify him, except this box of joke trick matches; he liked to have them on him, even at mass.
The police were unhurried and wonderful, they let me go on trying to strike a match.
I just wouldn't stop—you cling to anything— I couldn't believe I couldn't light one match— only joke matches.
Then I knew he was Richard.

Written by Robert Lowell |

For the Union Dead

 "Relinquunt Omnia Servare Rem Publicam.
" The old South Boston Aquarium stands in a Sahara of snow now.
Its broken windows are boarded.
The bronze weathervane cod has lost half its scales.
The airy tanks are dry.
Once my nose crawled like a snail on the glass; my hand tingled to burst the bubbles drifting from the noses of the cowed, compliant fish.
My hand draws back.
I often sigh still for the dark downward and vegetating kingdom of the fish and reptile.
One morning last March, I pressed against the new barbed and galvanized fence on the Boston Common.
Behind their cage, yellow dinosaur steamshovels were grunting as they cropped up tons of mush and grass to gouge their underworld garage.
Parking spaces luxuriate like civic sandpiles in the heart of Boston.
A girdle of orange, Puritan-pumpkin colored girders braces the tingling Statehouse, shaking over the excavations, as it faces Colonel Shaw and his bell-cheeked Negro infantry on St.
Gaudens' shaking Civil War relief, propped by a plank splint against the garage's earthquake.
Two months after marching through Boston, half the regiment was dead; at the dedication, William James could almost hear the bronze Negroes breathe.
Their monument sticks like a fishbone in the city's throat.
Its Colonel is as lean as a compass-needle.
He has an angry wrenlike vigilance, a greyhound's gently tautness; he seems to wince at pleasure, and suffocate for privacy.
He is out of bounds now.
He rejoices in man's lovely, peculiar power to choose life and die-- when he leads his black soldiers to death, he cannot bend his back.
On a thousand small town New England greens, the old white churches hold their air of sparse, sincere rebellion; frayed flags quilt the graveyards of the Grand Army of the Republic.
The stone statues of the abstract Union Soldier grow slimmer and younger each year-- wasp-waisted, they doze over muskets and muse through their sideburns .
Shaw's father wanted no monument except the ditch, where his son's body was thrown and lost with his "niggers.
" The ditch is nearer.
There are no statues for the last war here; on Boylston Street, a commercial photograph shows Hiroshima boiling over a Mosler Safe, the "Rock of Ages" that survived the blast.
Space is nearer.
When I crouch to my television set, the drained faces of Negro school-children rise like balloons.
Colonel Shaw is riding on his bubble, he waits for the bless?d break.
The Aquarium is gone.
Everywhere, giant finned cars nose forward like fish; a savage servility slides by on grease.

Written by Robert Lowell |

Man and Wife

Tamed by Miltown, we lie on Mother's bed;
the rising sun in war paint dyes us red;
in broad daylight her gilded bed-posts shine,
abandoned, almost Dionysian.
At last the trees are green on Marlborough Street, blossoms on our magnolia ignite the morning with their murderous five days' white.
All night I've held your hand, as if you had a fourth time faced the kingdom of the mad-- its hackneyed speech, its homicidal eye-- and dragged me home alive.
Oh my Petite, clearest of all God's creatures, still all air and nerve: you were in our twenties, and I, once hand on glass and heart in mouth, outdrank the Rahvs in the heat of Greenwich Village, fainting at your feet-- too boiled and shy and poker-faced to make a pass, while the shrill verve of your invective scorched the traditional South.
Now twelve years later, you turn your back.
Sleepless, you hold your pillow to your hollows like a child; your old-fashioned tirade-- loving, rapid, merciless-- breaks like the Atlantic Ocean on my head.

Written by David Lehman |


 for Jim Cummins 

In Iowa, Jim dreamed that Della Street was Anne Sexton's
Dave drew a comic strip called the "Adventures of Whitman," about a bearded beer-guzzler in Superman uniform.
Donna dressed like Wallace Stevens in a seersucker summer suit.
To town came Ted Berrigan, saying, "My idea of a bad poet is Marvin Bell.
" But no one has won as many prizes as Philip Levine.
At the restaurant, people were talking about Philip Levine's latest: the Pulitzer.
A toast was proposed by Anne Sexton.
No one saw the stranger, who said his name was Marvin Bell, pour something into Donna's drink.
"In the Walt Whitman Shopping Center, there you feel free," said Ted Berrigan, pulling on a Chesterfield.
Everyone laughed, except T.
I asked for directions.
"You turn right on Gertrude Stein, then bear left.
Three streetlights down you hang a Phil Levine and you're there," Jim said.
When I arrived I saw Ted Berrigan with cigarette ash in his beard.
Graffiti about Anne Sexton decorated the men's room walls.
Beth had bought a quart of Walt Whitman.
Donna looked blank.
"Walt who?" The name didn't ring a Marvin Bell.
You laugh, yet there is nothing inherently funny about Marvin Bell.
You cry, yet there is nothing inherently scary about Robert Lowell.
You drink a bottle of Samuel Smith's Nut Brown Ale, as thirsty as Walt Whitman.
You bring in your car for an oil change, thinking, this place has the aura of Philip Levine.
Then you go home and write: "He kissed her Anne Sexton, and she returned the favor, caressing his Ted Berrigan.
" Donna was candid.
"When the spirit of Ted Berrigan comes over me, I can't resist," she told Marvin Bell, while he stood dejected at the xerox machine.
Anne Sexton came by to circulate the rumor that Robert Duncan had flung his drink on a student who had called him Philip Levine.
The cop read him the riot act.
"I don't care," he said, "if you're Walt Whitman.
" Donna told Beth about her affair with Walt Whitman.
"He was indefatigable, but he wasn't Ted Berrigan.
" The Dow Jones industrials finished higher, led by Philip Levine, up a point and a half on strong earnings.
Marvin Bell ended the day unchanged.
Analyst Richard Howard recommended buying May Swenson and selling Anne Sexton.
In the old days, you liked either Walt Whitman or Anne Sexton, not both.
Ted Berrigan changed that just by going to a ballgame with Marianne Moore.
And one day Philip Levine looked in the mirror and saw Marvin Bell.