Their inspiration, hers the sympathy
Which spurs them on to any great endeavor,
To them the fields and woods are closest friends,
And they hold dear communion with the hills;
And the great winds bring healing in their sound.
To them a city is a prison house
Where pent up human forces labour and strive,
Where beauty dwells not, driven forth by man;
Summer gives back the spaces of the hills.
To me it is not so. I love the earth
And all the gifts of her so lavish hand:
Sunshine and flowers, rivers and rushing winds,
Thick branches swaying in a winter storm,
And moonlight playing in a boat’s wide wake;
But more than these, and much, ah, how much more,
I love the very human heart of man.
Far down the hillside lies the sleeping lake
Lazily reflecting back the sun,
And scarcely ruffled by the little breeze
Which wanders idly through the nodding ferns.
The green crest of the hill on which I sit;
And it is summer, glorious, deep-toned summer,
The very crown of nature’s changing year
When all her surging life is at its full.
A void and silent space between two worlds,
When inspiration lags, and feeling sleeps,
Gathering strength for efforts yet to come.
And closest contact with the human world
Is like a lantern shining in the night
To light me to a knowledge of myself.
In constant intercourse with human minds,
When every new experience is gain
And on all sides we feel the great world’s heart;
The pulse and throb of life which makes us men!
About the author
“God made me a business woman,” Lowell is reported to have quipped, “and I made myself a poet.”
Lowell was born in Brookline, Massachusetts, in 1874, into a prominent New England family—her brother, Percival Lowell, was a well-known astronomer, while another brother, Abbott Lawrence Lowell, became president of Harvard College. As a young girl she attended private schools in between sojourns to Europe with her family and, at the age of seventeen, began a diligent process of educating herself inside the seven thousand-volume library at Sevenels, the Lowell family seat in Brookline where she would also live as an adult. In August of 1910, at the age of thirty-six, Lowell saw her first poem, “Fixed Idea,” published in the Atlantic. Other poems appeared regularly in various periodicals over the next several years.
Lowell, a vivacious and outspoken businesswoman, tended to excite controversy. She was deeply interested in and influenced by the Imagist movement, led by Ezra Pound. The primary Imagists were Pound, Ford Madox Ford, H.D. (Hilda Doolittle), and Richard Aldington. This Anglo-American movement believed, in Lowell’s words, that “concentration is of the very essence of poetry” and strove to “produce poetry that is hard and clear, never blurred nor indefinite.” Lowell campaigned for the success of Imagist poetry in America and embraced its principles in her own work. She acted as a publicity agent for the movement, editing and contributing to an anthology of Imagist poets in 1915.
Her biography of Keats was published in 1925, the same year she won the Pulitzer Prize for her collection What’s O’Clock (Houghton Mifflin Company, 1925).
A dedicated poet, publicity agent, collector, critic, and lecturer, Lowell died on May 12, 1925, at Sevenels.