Lowell was born into Brookline's prominent Lowell family, sister to astronomer Percival Lowell and Harvard president Abbott Lawrence Lowell.
She never attended college because her family did not consider that proper for a woman, but she compensated with avid reading and near-obsessive book collecting. She lived as a socialite and travelled widely, turning to poetry in 1902 after being inspired by a performance of Eleonora Duse in Europe.
Lowell was said to be lesbian, and in 1912 she and actress Ada Dwyer Russell were reputed to be lovers. Russell is reputed to be the subject of her more erotic work, most notably the love poems contained in 'Two Speak Together', a subsection of Pictures of the Floating World. The two women traveled to England together, where Lowell met Ezra Pound, who at once became a major influence and a major critic of her work. Pound considered her embrace of Imagism to be a kind of hi-jacking of the movement, and among his friends he referred to her as the "hippo-poetess". Lowell has been linked romantically to writer Mercedes de Acosta, but the only evidence of any contact between them is a brief correspondence about a planned memorial for Duse. Lowell was a short but imposing figure who kept her hair in a bun and wore a pince-nez. She smoked cigars constantly, claiming that they lasted longer than cigarettes. A glandular problem kept her perpetually overweight, so that poet Witter Bynner once said, in a cruel comment repeated by Ezra Pound and thereafter commonly misattributed to him, that she was a "hippopoetess."
Lowell died of a cerebral hemorrhage in 1925 at the age of 51. The following year, she was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry for What's O'Clock. That collection included the patriotic poem "Lilacs", which Louis Untermeyer said was the poem of hers he liked best.
Her first published work appeared in 1910 in Atlantic Monthly. The first published collection of her poetry, A Dome of Many-Coloured Glass, appeared two years later in 1912. An additional group of uncollected poems was added to the volume The Complete Poetical Works of Amy Lowell, published in 1955 with an introduction by Louis Untermeyer, who considered himself her friend.
Though she sometimes wrote sonnets, Lowell was an early adherent to the "free verse" method of poetry and one of the major champions of this method She defined it in her preface to "Sword Blades and Poppy Seed"; in the North American Review for January, 1917; in the closing chapter of "Tendencies in Modern American Poetry"; and also in the Dial (January 17, 1918), as "The definition of Vers libre is: a verse-formal based upon cadence.To understand vers libre, one must abandon all desire to find in it the even rhythm of metrical feet. One must allow the lines to flow as they will when read aloud by an intelligent reader. Or, to put it another way, unrhymed cadence is "built upon 'organic rhythm,' or the rhythm of the speaking voice with its necessity for breathing, rather than upon a strict metrical system.Free verse within its own law of cadence has no absolute rules; it would not be 'free' if it had."
Untermeyer writes that "She was not only a disturber but an awakener." In many poems she dispenses with line breaks so that the work looks like prose on the page. This technique she labeled "polyphonic prose".
Throughout her working life Lowell was a promoter of both contemporary and historical poets. Her book Fir-Flower Poets was a poetical re-working of literal translations of the works of ancient Chinese poets, notably Li Tai-po (A.D. 701-762). Her writing also included critical works on French literature. When she died she was attempting to complete her two-volume biography of John Keats. Writing of Keats, Lowell said that "The stigma of oddness is the price a myopic world always exacts of genius."
Lowell not only published her own work but also that of other writers. According to Untermeyer, she "captured" the Imagist movement from Ezra Pound. Pound threatened to sue her for bringing out her three-volume series Some Imagist Poets, and thereafter called the American Imagists the "Amygist" movement. Pound criticized her as not an imagist but merely a rich woman who was able to financially assist the publication of imagist poetry. She said that Imagism was weak before she took it up, whereas others said it became weak after Pound's "exile" towards Vorticism.
Amy Lowell Posting Date: August 3, 2008 Release Date: August, 1997 Language: English Character set encoding: ASCII *** START OF THIS PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK SWORD BLADES AND POPPY SEED *** Produced by Alan R. Light SWORD BLADES AND POPPY SEED by Amy Lowell [American (Massachusetts) poet, 1874-1925.] [Note on text: Lines longer than 78 characters have been cut and continued on the ne.....Read Table of contents Download
Vachel Lindsay Posting Date: July 23, 2008 [EBook #1021] Release Date: August, 1997 Language: English Character set encoding: ASCII *** START OF THIS PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK THE CONGO AND OTHER POEMS *** Produced by Alan R. Light THE CONGO AND OTHER POEMS By Vachel Lindsay [Nicholas Vachel Lindsay, Illinois Artist. 1879-1931.] With an introduction by Harriet Monroe Editor of "Poetry" [Notes:.....Read Table of contents Download