On this day in 1874 the American poet Amy Lowell was born. By all accounts Lowell was a short and rather plump lady. Ezra Pound is said to have unkindly called her the “hippopoetess”.
A spinster, a feminist and apparently a lesbian, Lowell belied her patrician background by producing poetry full of pent up emotion and colourful imagery. TS Eliot called her “the demon saleswoman of poetry”.
Here is part of her poem, In Excelsis:
You – you –
Your shadow is sunlight on a plate of silver;
Your footsteps, the seeding-place of lilies;
Your hands moving, a chime of bells across a windless air.
The movement of your hands is the long, golden running of light from a rising sun;
It is the hopping of birds upon a garden-path.
As the perfume of jonquils, you come forth in the morning.
Young horses are not more sudden than your thoughts,
Your words are bees about a pear-tree,
Your fancies are the gold-and-black striped wasps buzzing among red apples.
I drink your lips,
I eat the whiteness of your hands and feet.
My mouth is open. As a new jar I am empty and open.
How has the rainbow fallen upon my heart?
How have I snared the seas to lie in my fingers
And caught the sky to be a cover for my head? How have you come to dwell with me,
Compassing me with the four circles of your mystic lightness,
So that I say “Glory! Glory!” and bow before you as to a shrine?
Today I am grateful to live in a world where passion can be expressed.