Saturday, June 18, 2011

Classic Poetry- "Petals" by Amy Lowell

Petals by Amy Lowell

Life is a stream
On which we strew
Petal by petal the flower of our heart;
The end lost in dream,
They float past our view,
We only watch their glad, early start.
Freighted with hope,
Crimsoned with joy,
We scatter the leaves of our opening rose;
Their widening scope,
Their distant employ,
We never shall know. And the stream as it flows
Sweeps them away,
Each one is gone
Ever beyond into infinite ways.
We alone stay
While years hurry on,
The flower fared forth, though its fragrance still stays.

Amy Lowell (1874-1925), American Imagist poet, was a woman of great accomplishment. She was born in Brookline, Massachusetts, to a prominent family of high-achievers. Her environment was literary and sophisticated, and when she left private school at 17 to care for her elderly parents, she embarked on a program of self-education.

Her poetic career began in 1902 when she saw Eleonora Duse, a famous actress, perform on stage. Overcome with Eleonora's beauty and talent, she wrote her first poem addressed to the actress. They met only a couple times and never developed a relationship, but Eleonora inspired many poems from Amy and triggered her career.

Ada Russell, another actress, became the love of Amy's life. She met Ada in 1909 and they remained together until Amy's death in 1925. Amy wrote many, many poems about Ada. In the beginning, as with her previous poems about women, she wrote in such a way that only those who knew the inspiration for a poem would recognize its lesbian content. But as time went on, she censored her work less and less. By the time she wrote Pictures of the Floating World, her poems about Ada were much more blatantly erotic. The series "Planes of Personality: Two Speak Together" chronicles their relationship, including the intensely erotic poem "A Decade" that celebrates their tenth anniversary.

by A.M. Trumble


  1. What a good pick! A very interesting poet. I love the strewing petals from the flower of our heart. Beautiful!

  2. Way back in high school, I looked up a volume of poems by Amy Lowell and checked it out. My curiosity stemmed from having heard someplace that she was a lesbian, and I wanted to see of I could discover someone who spoke my language. She did, but not for that reason. I found that I simply loved her poetry, and have read her ever since. My favorite line of hers:

    "fate lays many springes for those with imagination"

  3. Great choice, Bttrflyscar! Lowell's poetry has always struck me as honest and searching. I'm glad you highlighted her today.

  4. WoW! This is some read.
    I love the opening lines & the ending.

    Thanks for the link, I'll check it out.

    Very nice choice Bttrflyscar!


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