Date of Award
Amy Lowell's poetry serves as a reflection of the challenges and struggles that permeated her life. Her late entry into the world of published poetry at the age of 38 resulted in the presentation of already-solidified beliefs that she had developed since childhood. Although the techniques she employed and the quality of her writing varied in the last decades of her life, Lowell's focus on imagery, rhythm, and mood remained consistent in many of her works. Published in 1916, the poem "Patterns", from Men, Women, and Ghosts, contains themes that are of particular note when placed into the context of Lowell's life. Besides the obvious references to her anti-war sentiment and the unabashed employment of sensual language as descriptive tools, "Patterns" places a spotlight on the issues that had repeatedly come to plague Lowell's life. The cycle of life and death, the unstoppable force of time, the conflict of living as a female in society with pervasive pressures of conformity, and fears of never finding love as a social outcast and homosexual woman are all patterns in Amy Lowell's life that assert themselves in this particular poem. The ostentatious nature of her writing also serves as a reflection of the lifestyle and performance decisions she made in her journey as a nationally-acclaimed poet.
Through her frequent employment of descriptive language and her strong focus on pacing, verse, and rhythm, Amy Lowell addresses the subjects of sensuality, social conformity, death, and anti-war sentiment in "Patterns". This poem is an accurate representation of the life values and poetic aesthetic that she attempted to exude during her lifetime, for she felt that "the poet with originality and power is always seeking to give his readers the same poignant feeling which he has himself."1
Cottam, Emily Jinju, "A Stiff, Brocaded Gown: Patterns in the Life of Amy Lowell" (2017). Undergraduate Honors Capstone Projects. 263.
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