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Lowell, Amy

· Amy Lowell: The Exeter Road · Amy Lowell: Lead Soldiers · AMY LOWELL: PATTERNS · Amy Lowell: To a Friend · Amy Lowell: To a Friend · Amy Lowell poetry: J.-K. Huysmans · Amy Lowell: A London Thoroughfare – 2 A.M.

Amy Lowell: The Exeter Road

 

The Exeter Road

Panels of claret and blue which shine
Under the moon like lees of wine.
A coronet done in a golden scroll,
And wheels which blunder and creak as they roll
Through the muddy ruts of a moorland track.
They daren’t look back!
They are whipping and cursing the horses. Lord!
What brutes men are when they think they’re scored.
Behind, my bay gelding gallops with me,
In a steaming sweat, it is fine to see
That coach, all claret, and gold, and blue,
Hop about and slue.
They are scared half out of their wits, poor souls.
For my lord has a casket full of rolls
Of minted sovereigns, and silver bars.
I laugh to think how he’ll show his scars
In London to-morrow. He whines with rage
In his varnished cage.
My lady has shoved her rings over her toes.
‘Tis an ancient trick every night-rider knows.
But I shall relieve her of them yet,
When I see she limps in the minuet
I must beg to celebrate this night,
And the green moonlight.
There’s nothing to hurry about, the plain
Is hours long, and the mud’s a strain.
My gelding’s uncommonly strong in the loins,
In half an hour I’ll bag the coins.
‘Tis a clear, sweet night on the turn of Spring.
The chase is the thing!
How the coach flashes and wobbles, the moon
Dripping down so quietly on it. A tune
Is beating out of the curses and screams,
And the cracking all through the painted seams.
Steady, old horse, we’ll keep it in sight.
‘Tis a rare fine night!
There’s a clump of trees on the dip of the down,
And the sky shimmers where it hangs over the town.
It seems a shame to break the air
In two with this pistol, but I’ve my share
Of drudgery like other men.
His hat? Amen!
Hold up, you beast, now what the devil!
Confound this moor for a pockholed, evil,
Rotten marsh. My right leg’s snapped.
‘Tis a mercy he’s rolled, but I’m nicely capped.
A broken-legged man and a broken-legged horse!
They’ll get me, of course.
The cursed coach will reach the town
And they’ll all come out, every loafer grown
A lion to handcuff a man that’s down.
What’s that? Oh, the coachman’s bulleted hat!
I’ll give it a head to fit it pat.
Thank you! No cravat.

~They handcuffed the body just for style,
And they hung him in chains for the volatile
Wind to scour him flesh from bones.
Way out on the moor you can hear the groans
His gibbet makes when it blows a gale.
‘Tis a common tale.~

Amy Lowell
(1874 – 1925)
The Exeter Road
Poem

• fleursdumal.nl magazine

More in: Archive K-L, Archive K-L, Lowell, Amy


Amy Lowell: Lead Soldiers

 

Lead Soldiers

The nursery fire burns brightly, crackling in cheerful
little explosions
and trails of sparks up the back of the chimney. Miniature
rockets
peppering the black bricks with golden stars, as though a gala
flamed a night of victorious wars.
The nodding mandarin on the bookcase moves his
head forward and back, slowly,
and looks into the air with his blue-green eyes. He stares
into the air
and nods — forward and back. The red rose in his hand
is a crimson splash
on his yellow coat. Forward and back, and his blue-green
eyes stare
into the air, and he nods — nods.

Tommy’s soldiers march to battle,
Trumpets flare and snare-drums rattle.
Bayonets flash, and sabres glance —
How the horses snort and prance!
Cannon drawn up in a line
Glitter in the dizzy shine
Of the morning sunlight. Flags
Ripple colours in great jags.
Red blows out, then blue, then green,
Then all three — a weaving sheen
Of prismed patriotism. March
Tommy’s soldiers, stiff and starch,
Boldly stepping to the rattle
Of the drums, they go to battle.

Tommy lies on his stomach on the floor and directs his columns.
He puts his infantry in front, and before them ambles a mounted
band.
Their instruments make a strand of gold before the scarlet-tunicked
soldiers,
and they take very long steps on their little green platforms,
and from the ranks bursts the song of Tommy’s soldiers marching
to battle.
The song jolts a little as the green platforms stick on the thick
carpet.
Tommy wheels his guns round the edge of a box of blocks, and places
a squad of cavalry on the commanding eminence of a footstool.

The fire snaps pleasantly, and the old Chinaman nods — nods. The
fire makes
the red rose in his hand glow and twist. Hist! That
is a bold song
Tommy’s soldiers sing as they march along to battle.
Crack! Rattle! The sparks
fly up the chimney.

Tommy’s army’s off to war —
Not a soldier knows what for.
But he knows about his rifle,
How to shoot it, and a trifle
Of the proper thing to do
When it’s he who is shot through.
Like a cleverly trained flea,
He can follow instantly
Orders, and some quick commands
Really make severe demands
On a mind that’s none too rapid,
Leaden brains tend to the vapid.
But how beautifully dressed
Is this army! How impressed
Tommy is when at his heel
All his baggage wagons wheel
About the patterned carpet, and
Moving up his heavy guns
He sees them glow with diamond suns
Flashing all along each barrel.
And the gold and blue apparel
Of his gunners is a joy.
Tommy is a lucky boy.
Boom! Boom! Ta-ra!

The old mandarin nods under his purple umbrella. The
rose in his hand
shoots its petals up in thin quills of crimson. Then
they collapse
and shrivel like red embers. The fire sizzles.

Tommy is galloping his cavalry, two by two, over the floor. They
must pass
the open terror of the door and gain the enemy encamped under the
wash-stand.
The mounted band is very grand, playing allegro and leading the
infantry on
at the double quick. The tassel of the hearth-rug has
flung down
the bass-drum, and he and his dapple-grey horse lie overtripped,
slipped out of line, with the little lead drumsticks glistening
to the fire’s shine.
The fire burns and crackles, and tickles the tripped
bass-drum
with its sparkles.
The marching army hitches its little green platforms
valiantly, and steadily
approaches the door. The overturned bass-drummer, lying
on the hearth-rug,
melting in the heat, softens and sheds tears. The song
jeers
at his impotence, and flaunts the glory of the martial and still
upstanding,
vaunting the deeds it will do. For are not Tommy’s soldiers
all bright and new?

Tommy’s leaden soldiers we,
Glittering with efficiency.
Not a button’s out of place,
Tons and tons of golden lace
Wind about our officers.
Every manly bosom stirs
At the thought of killing — killing!
Tommy’s dearest wish fulfilling.
We are gaudy, savage, strong,
And our loins so ripe we long
First to kill, then procreate,
Doubling so the laws of Fate.
On their women we have sworn
To graft our sons. And overborne
They’ll rear us younger soldiers, so
Shall our race endure and grow,
Waxing greater in the wombs
Borrowed of them, while damp tombs
Rot their men. O Glorious War!
Goad us with your points, Great Star!

The china mandarin on the bookcase nods slowly, forward and back
forward and back — and the red rose writhes and wriggles,
thrusting its flaming petals under and over one another like tortured
snakes.
The fire strokes them with its dartles, and purrs at them,
and the old man nods.

Tommy does not hear the song. He only sees the beautiful,
new,
gaily-coloured lead soldiers. They belong to him, and
he is very proud
and happy. He shouts his orders aloud, and gallops his
cavalry past the door
to the wash-stand. He creeps over the floor on his hands
and knees
to one battalion and another, but he sees only the bright colours
of his soldiers and the beautiful precision of their gestures.
He is a lucky boy to have such fine lead soldiers to enjoy.

Tommy catches his toe in the leg of the wash-stand, and jars the
pitcher.
He snatches at it with his hands, but it is too late. The
pitcher falls,
and as it goes, he sees the white water flow over its lip. It
slips
between his fingers and crashes to the floor. But it
is not water which oozes
to the door. The stain is glutinous and dark, a spark
from the firelight
heads it to red. In and out, between the fine, new soldiers,
licking over the carpet, squirms the stream of blood, lapping at
the little green platforms, and flapping itself against the painted
uniforms.

The nodding mandarin moves his head slowly, forward and back.
The rose is broken, and where it fell is black blood. The
old mandarin leers
under his purple umbrella, and nods — forward and back, staring
into the air
with blue-green eyes. Every time his head comes forward
a rosebud pushes
between his lips, rushes into full bloom, and drips to the ground
with a splashing sound. The pool of black blood grows
and grows,
with each dropped rose, and spreads out to join the stream from
the wash-stand. The beautiful army of lead soldiers steps
boldly forward,
but the little green platforms are covered in the rising stream
of blood.

The nursery fire burns brightly and flings fan-bursts of stars up
the chimney,
as though a gala flamed a night of victorious wars.

Amy Lowell
(1874 – 1925)
Lead Soldiers
Poem

• fleursdumal.nl magazine

More in: Archive K-L, Archive K-L, Lowell, Amy


AMY LOWELL: PATTERNS

Amy Lowell
(1874-1925)

Patterns

I walk down the garden-paths,
And all the daffodils
Are blowing, and the bright blue squills.
I walk down the patterned garden-paths
In my stiff, brocaded gown.
With my powdered hair and jeweled fan,
I too am a rare
Pattern. As I wander down
The garden-paths.
My dress is richly figured,
And the train
Makes a pink and silver stain
On the gravel, and the thrift
Of the borders.
Just a plate of current fashion,
Tripping by in high-heeled, ribboned shoes.
Not a softness anywhere about me,
Only whalebone and brocade.
And I sink on a seat in the shade
Of a lime tree. For my passion
Wars against the stiff brocade.
The daffodils and squills
Flutter in the breeze
As they please.
And I weep;
For the lime-tree is in blossom
And one small flower has dropped upon my bosom.

And the splashing of waterdrops
In the marble fountain
Comes down the garden-paths.
The dripping never stops.
Underneath my stiffened gown
Is the softness of a woman bathing in a marble basin,
A basin in the midst of hedges grown
So thick, she cannot see her lover hiding,
But she guesses he is near,
And the sliding of the water
Seems the stroking of a dear
Hand upon her.
What is Summer in a fine brocaded gown!
I should like to see it lying in a heap upon the ground.
All the pink and silver crumpled up on the ground.

I would be the pink and silver as I ran along the paths,
And he would stumble after,
Bewildered by my laughter.
I should see the sun flashing from his sword-hilt and the buckles on his shoes.
I would choose
To lead him in a maze along the patterned paths,
A bright and laughing maze for my heavy-booted lover.
Till he caught me in the shade,
And the buttons of his waistcoat bruised my body as he clasped me,
Aching, melting, unafraid.
With the shadows of the leaves and the sundrops,
And the plopping of the waterdrops,
All about us in the open afternoon–
I am very like to swoon
With the weight of this brocade,
For the sun sifts through the shade.

Underneath the fallen blossom
In my bosom,
Is a letter I have hid.
It was brought to me this morning by a rider from the Duke.
“Madam, we regret to inform you that Lord Hartwell
Died in action Thursday se’nnight.”
As I read it in the white, morning sunlight,
The letters squirmed like snakes.
“Any answer, Madam,” said my footman.
“No,” I told him.
“See that the messenger takes some refreshment.
No, no answer.”
And I walked into the garden,
Up and down the patterned paths,
In my stiff, correct brocade.
The blue and yellow flowers stood up proudly in the sun,
Each one.
I stood upright too,
Held rigid to the pattern
By the stiffness of my gown.
Up and down I walked,
Up and down.

In a month he would have been my husband.
In a month, here, underneath this lime,
We would have broke the pattern;
He for me, and I for him,
He as Colonel, I as Lady,
On this shady seat.
He had a whim
That sunlight carried blessing.
And I answered, “It shall be as you have said.”
Now he is dead.

In Summer and in Winter I shall walk
Up and down
The patterned garden-paths
In my stiff, brocaded gown.
The squills and daffodils
Will give place to pillared roses, and to asters, and to snow.
I shall go
Up and down
In my gown.
Gorgeously arrayed,
Boned and stayed.
And the softness of my body will be guarded from embrace
By each button, hook, and lace.
For the man who should loose me is dead,
Fighting with the Duke in Flanders,
In a pattern called a war.
Christ! What are patterns for?

Amy Lowell poetry
fleursdumal.nl magazine

More in: Archive K-L, CLASSIC POETRY, Lowell, Amy


Amy Lowell: To a Friend

lowell

Amy Lowell

(1874–1925)

 

To a Friend

I ask but one thing of you, only one,

That always you will be my dream of you;

That never shall I wake to find untrue

All this I have believed and rested on,

Forever vanished, like a vision gone

Out into the night. Alas, how few

There are who strike in us a chord we knew

Existed, but so seldom heard its tone

We tremble at the half-forgotten sound.

The world is full of rude awakenings

And heaven-born castles shattered to the ground,

Yet still our human longing vainly clings

To a belief in beauty through all wrongs.

O stay your hand, and leave my heart its songs!

 

Amy Lowell poetry

fleursdumal.nl magazine

More in: Archive K-L, Archive K-L, CLASSIC POETRY, Lowell, Amy


Amy Lowell: To a Friend

lowellamy 01

Amy Lowell

(1874-1925)

 

To a Friend

 

I ask but one thing of you, only one,

That always you will be my dream of you;

That never shall I wake to find untrue

All this I have believed and rested on,

Forever vanished, like a vision gone

Out into the night. Alas, how few

There are who strike in us a chord we knew

Existed, but so seldom heard its tone

We tremble at the half-forgotten sound.

The world is full of rude awakenings

And heaven-born castles shattered to the ground,

Yet still our human longing vainly clings

To a belief in beauty through all wrongs.

O stay your hand, and leave my heart its songs!

 

Amy Lowell poetry

fleursdumal.nl magazine

More in: Archive K-L, Archive K-L, Lowell, Amy


Amy Lowell poetry: J.-K. Huysmans

Amy Lowell

(1874-1925)

 

J.-K. Huysmans

A flickering glimmer through a window-pane,

A dim red glare through mud bespattered glass,

Cleaving a path between blown walls of sleet

Across uneven pavements sunk in slime

To scatter and then quench itself in mist.

And struggling, slipping, often rudely hurled

Against the jutting angle of a wall,

And cursed, and reeled against, and flung aside

By drunken brawlers as they shuffled past,

A man was groping to what seemed a light.

His eyelids burnt and quivered with the strain

Of looking, and against his temples beat

The all enshrouding, suffocating dark.

He stumbled, lurched, and struck against a door

That opened, and a howl of obscene mirth

Grated his senses, wallowing on the floor

Lay men, and dogs and women in the dirt.

He sickened, loathing it, and as he gazed

The candle guttered, flared, and then went out.

Through travail of ignoble midnight streets

He came at last to shelter in a porch

Where gothic saints and warriors made a shield

To cover him, and tortured gargoyles spat

One long continuous stream of silver rain

That clattered down from myriad roofs and spires

Into a darkness, loud with rushing sound

Of water falling, gurgling as it fell,

But always thickly dark. Then as he leaned

Unconscious where, the great oak door blew back

And cast him, bruised and dripping, in the church.

His eyes from long sojourning in the night

Were blinded now as by some glorious sun;

He slowly crawled toward the altar steps.

He could not think, for heavy in his ears

An organ boomed majestic harmonies;

He only knew that what he saw was light!

He bowed himself before a cross of flame

And shut his eyes in fear lest it should fade.

 

Amy Lowell poetry

fleursdumal.nl magazine

More in: Archive K-L, Joris-Karl Huysmans, Lowell, Amy


Amy Lowell: A London Thoroughfare – 2 A.M.

Amy Lowell

(1874-1925)


A London Thoroughfare – 2 A.M.


They have watered the street,

It shines in the glare of lamps,

Cold, white lamps,

And lies

Like a slow-moving river,

Barred with silver and black.

Cabs go down it,

One,

And then another,

Between them I hear the shuffling of feet.

Tramps doze on the window-ledges,

Night-walkers pass along the sidewalks.

The city is squalid and sinister,

With the silver-barred street in the midst,

Slow-moving,

A river leading nowhere.

 

Opposite my window,

The moon cuts,

Clear and round,

Through the plum-coloured night.

She cannot light the city:

It is too bright.

It has white lamps,

And glitters coldly.

 

I stand in the window and watch the moon.

She is thin and lustreless,

But I love her.

I know the moon,

And this is an alien city.

 

Poem of the week – December 28, 2008

fleursdumal.nl magazine

More in: Archive K-L, Archive K-L, Lowell, Amy


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