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Amy Lowell (Amy Lawrence Lowell) Biography

(1874–1925), (Amy Lawrence Lowell), A Dome of Many-Coloured Glass, Des Imagistes, Some Imagist Poets

American poet and critic, born in Brookline, Massachusetts, of the influential New England family to which Robert Lowell also belonged; she was educated at private schools in Boston. She engaged in travel and voluntary work from the age of 16 until 1902, when she acquired the intense interest in poetry which thereafter dominated her life. Following the appearance of her first collection of conventionally accomplished lyric verses, A Dome of Many-Coloured Glass (1912), she met Ezra Pound during a visit to England and became actively associated with the development of Imagism. Her poetry rapidly took on the movement's identifying attributes of free-verse forms and visually precise imagery and was represented in Pound's edition of Des Imagistes (1914), the anthology that brought the school to public attention. Lowell edited three subsequent volumes entitled Some Imagist Poets (1915, 1916, 1917), emerging as the doyenne of what Pound termed ‘Amy-gism’, an enervated version, he claimed, of the mode he had formerly championed. The Imagist tendency having been firmly established in her collection Sword Blades and Poppy Seed (1914), the experimental impulse was sustained in Men, Women, and Ghosts (1916), in which she first used ‘polyphonic prose’, a rhythmically and musically enriched prose style she claimed to have learned from the French poet Paul Fort. Can Grande's Castle (1918) consisted of four narratives written entirely in polyphonic prose, which lent itself well to Lowell's opulently exotic descriptive manner. The refined and delicate imagery of Pictures of the Floating World (1919), which resulted in part from her attention to Chinese and Japanese poetry, constitutes her finest lyrical work; Fir-Flower Tablets of 1921 contained her translations of Chinese verse. Several posthumous collections included What O'Clock (1925; Pulitzer Prize). The Complete Poetical Works (1955) was edited by Louis Untermeyer. Lowell also published a valuable body of critical works, among which are Six French Poets: Studies in Contemporary Literature (1915) and Tendencies in Modern American Poetry (1917); her A Critical Fable (1922), which appeared anonymously, is a verse satire on the American literati of the day modelled on A Fable for Critics (1848) by James Russell Lowell, her distinguished forebear. Notable among her other works is the compendious biographical study John Keats (1925), in which she made use of materials hitherto neglected by commentators on Keats's life and works. Of numerous biographies of Lowell, S. Foster Damon's Amy Lowell: A Chronicle (1935) remains the most highly regarded.

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Literature Reference: American Literature, English Literature, Classics & Modern FictionEncyclopedia of Literature: Earl Lovelace Biography to Madmen and Specialists