Monday, January 26, 2015

Tuesday Poem - Interlude by Amy Lowell


When I have baked white cakes
And grated green almonds to spread upon them;
When I have picked the green crowns from the strawberries
And piled them, cone-pointed, in a blue and yellow platter;
When I have smoothed the seam of the linen I have been working;
What then?
To-morrow it will be the same:
Cakes and strawberries,
And needles in and out of cloth.
If the sun is beautiful on bricks and pewter,
How much more beautiful is the moon,
Slanting down the gauffered branches of a plum-tree;
The moon,
Wavering across a bed of tulips;
The moon,
Upon your face.
You shine, Beloved,
You and the moon.
But which is the reflection?
The clock is striking eleven.
I think, when we have shut and barred the door,
The night will be dark

from, Honor Moore (ed), Amy Lowell, Selected Poems, American Poets Project, 2004.

This is my first Tuesday Poem post for 2015! I've chosen this Lowell poem because of that lovely intersection between the domestic detail and the erotic. I'm also intrigued by the movement in the last part of the poem - does the barring of the door keep the moon/Beloved inside so the private space (domestic and erotic) is bright in contrast to the (sinister) dark night?

Amy Lowell was an Imagist and at the centre of the Imagist controversy. In 1915, in the introduction to her Imagist anthology she attempted to list the hallmarks of this poetry:

1. To use the language of common speech. . . .
2. To create new rhythms. . . .
3. To allow absolute freedom in the choice of subject. . . .
4. To present an image. . . .
5. To produce poetry that is hard and clear, never blurred nor indefinite.
6. Finally, most of us believe that concentration is of the very essence of poetry.
She was the partner of Ada Russell and her poetry boldly declares the eroticism of this relationship, in an era when 'Boston marriages' were common but not sexually explicit. She was a lifelong friend of Robert Frost, Thomas Hardy and D. H. Lawrence and an adversary of Ezra Pound. She was a formidable worker, translating classic Chinese poems and writing a biography of Keats before her untimely death at 51.

Check out the Tuesday Poem blog for this week's featured poem and navigate the menu of Tuesday Poets for other lyrical delights. 

1 comment:

Michelle Elvy said...

OH what a lovely poem to start the 2015 series. I can see why this draws you in -- that intersection between the seeming quiet of domestic and the underlying suggestion of erotic/ something else. Very interesting, and great commentary, too. Thank you for sharing this week. Makes me want to bake a cake...