A Public Sphere for Poetry, Politics, and Nature
Pale, with the blue of high zeniths, shimmered over with silver, brocaded
In smooth, running patterns, a soft stuff, with dark knotted fringes, it lies there,
Warm from a woman’s soft shoulders, and my fingers close on it, caressing.
Where is she, the woman who wore it? The scent of her lingers and drugs me.
A languor, fire-shotted, runs through me, and I crush the scarf down on my face,
And gulp in the warmth and the blueness, and my eyes swim in cool-tinted heavens.
Around me are columns of marble, and a diapered, sun-flickered pavement.
Rose-leaves blow and patter against it. Below the stone steps a lute tinkles.
A jar of green jade throws its shadow half over the floor. A big-bellied
Frog hops through the sunlight, and plops in the gold-bubbled water of a basin,
Sunk in the black and white marble. The west wind has lifted a scarf
On the seat close beside me; the blue of it is a violent outrage of colour.
She draws it more closely about her, and it ripples beneath her slight stirring.
Her kisses are sharp buds of fire; and I burn back against her, a jewel
Hard and white, a stalked, flaming flower; till I break to a handful of cinders,
And open my eyes to the scarf, shining blue in the afternoon sunshine.
How loud clocks can tick when a room is empty, and one is alone!
Public Domain. First published 1926.
During a career that spanned just over a dozen years, Amy Lowell (1874-1925) wrote and published over 650 poems, yet scholars cite Lowell’s tireless efforts to awaken American readers to contemporary trends in poetry as her more influential contribution to literary history. “Poet, propagandist, lecturer, translator, biographer, critic . . . her verve is almost as remarkable as her verse,” opined poet Louis Untermeyer in his 1923 work American Poetry since 1900. A collection of Lowell’s work, published posthumously as What’s O’Clock?, was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry in 1926. She was survived by her secretary, Ada Dwyer Russell, with whom she had a long-term relationship. (source: Poetry Foundation)