Get Your Premium Membership

Amy Lowell Biography | Poet

Photo of Amy Lowell

Amy Lowell was a woman of many talents and passions. She was a poet, a critic, a feminist, and a lover of life. Her work has been celebrated for its boldness, its sensuality, and its exploration of the human experience. In this article, we will take a journey through the life and work of Amy Lowell, exploring the many facets of this remarkable woman.

Early Life and Education

Amy Lowell was born in Brookline, Massachusetts in 1874. She came from a prominent family, with her brother Percival Lowell being a well-known astronomer and her cousin James Russell Lowell being a famous poet. From a young age, Amy showed a love for literature and writing, and she was encouraged by her family to pursue her passions.

After attending private schools in Boston and traveling to Europe, Amy returned to the United States and began to focus on her writing. She studied at Harvard University's "Society for the Collegiate Instruction of Women" and later at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York City.

Early Works and Success

Amy Lowell's early works were heavily influenced by the Imagist movement, which focused on concise, clear language and the use of everyday objects and experiences in poetry. Her first collection, "A Dome of Many-Coloured Glass" was published in 1912 and received critical acclaim.

However, it was her second collection, "Sword Blades and Poppy Seed" published in 1914, that brought her widespread recognition and success. This collection included her famous poem "Patterns", which is considered one of her most powerful and influential works.

The Amy Lowell-Puffs of Flowers Controversy

One of Amy Lowell's most famous poems is "Patterns," which was published in her collection "Sword Blades and Poppy Seed." However, this poem was not without controversy. In the original version of the poem, Lowell used the phrase "puffs of flowers" to describe the flowers in a garden. However, this phrase was misprinted as "puss of flowers" in the first edition of the book.

This mistake caused a scandal, with many critics and readers accusing Lowell of being vulgar and obscene. Lowell was deeply hurt by these accusations and fought to have the mistake corrected in future editions of the book. This incident became known as the "Amy Lowell-Puffs of Flowers Controversy" and is still discussed and debated by literary scholars today.

Later Works and Legacy

Despite the controversy surrounding "Patterns", Amy Lowell continued to write and publish poetry. She also became a prominent figure in the literary world, hosting salons and gatherings for other writers and artists. She was a champion of free verse and modern poetry, and her work had a significant impact on the development of American literature.

Some of her later works include "Men, Women and Ghosts" (1916), "Can Grande's Castle" (1918), and "What's O'Clock" (1925). She also published several collections of critical essays, including "Tendencies in Modern American Poetry" (1917) and "Six French Poets" (1915).

Amy Lowell's legacy continues to live on today, with her work being studied and celebrated by literary scholars and readers alike. She is remembered for her bold and sensual poetry, her contributions to the development of modern poetry, and her unwavering dedication to her craft.

The Many Faces of Amy Lowell

Amy Lowell was a complex and multifaceted woman, and her work reflects this. She was a feminist, a lover, a critic, and a poet. Her poetry explored themes of love, desire, nature, and the human experience. She was unafraid to challenge societal norms and push the boundaries of traditional poetry.

Her work also reflected her personal struggles, including her battle with illness and her unrequited love for Ada Dwyer Russell. Her poems are a reflection of her life, and through them, we can catch a glimpse of the many faces of Amy Lowell.

The Amy Lowell Poetry Travelling Scholarship

In 1925, Amy Lowell passed away at the age of 51 due to a cerebral hemorrhage. In her will, she left a generous bequest to establish the "Amy Lowell Poetry Travelling Scholarship". This scholarship is awarded annually to a poet to fund a year of travel and study abroad.

The scholarship has helped many poets to further their craft and has become a prestigious award in the literary world. It is a testament to Amy Lowell's dedication to poetry and her desire to support and encourage other writers.

Famous Poems

Amy Lowell, an influential poet of the early 20th century, has several famous poems that have left a lasting impact on literature. Here are some of Amy Lowell's most renowned and frequently studied poems:

  1. "Patterns" - This poem explores the confinement of women in society through the imagery of a woman trapped in a patterned dress. It is considered one of Lowell's most powerful and influential works.
  2. "The Taxi" - In this poem, Lowell captures the energy and atmosphere of a bustling cityscape at night from the perspective of a taxi passenger. It delves into the sensory experience of the city and the emotions it evokes.
  3. "The Pond" - This poem explores the beauty and tranquility of a pond, using vivid and descriptive language to paint a serene and reflective scene.
  4. "Lilacs" - In this poem, Lowell celebrates the beauty and fragrance of lilacs, using sensory imagery to evoke their essence and transport the reader to a garden filled with delicate flowers.
  5. "A Decade" - This deeply personal and introspective poem reflects on a past love affair and the lingering emotions associated with it. It explores themes of love, loss, and memory.
  6. "The Giver of Stars" - In this poem, Lowell highlights the power and significance of the stars in the universe, emphasizing their influence on human existence and the cosmic connections they represent.
  7. "Summer Rain" - This poem captures the transformative power of rain in a summer setting, examining the impact it has on nature and human emotions.

These are just a few examples of Amy Lowell's famous poems. Her unique style, vivid imagery, and exploration of themes continue to resonate with readers and make her a significant figure in American poetry.

The Amy Lowell House and Garden

In addition to her poetry, Amy Lowell was also known for her love of gardening. She was an avid gardener and spent much of her time tending to her garden at her home in Brookline, Massachusetts. Today, her home is known as the "Amy Lowell House and Garden" and is open to the public for tours.

Visitors can explore the house and garden and learn more about Amy Lowell's life and work. The garden is still maintained according to Lowell's original plans, and many of the flowers and plants she loved can still be found there.

In Conclusion

Amy Lowell was a remarkable woman whose life and work continue to inspire and influence readers and writers today. Her bold and sensual poetry, her dedication to her craft, and her contributions to the development of modern poetry make her a significant figure in American literature.

Through her poetry, we can catch a glimpse of the many faces of Amy Lowell - a woman who was unafraid to challenge societal norms, explore the depths of human emotion, and leave a lasting legacy in the literary world.

Amy Lowell: Poems | Best Poems | Short Poems | Quotes