Robert Lowell

1917-1977

'The Immortal is scraped unconsenting from the mortal'

Robert Lowell is buried in the private Stark Cemetery, Dunbarton, Merrimack County,  New Hampshire, USA.
 


Robert Lowell's Grave, Stark Cemetery by Wolfie

 

Robert Lowell

Lowell was educated at Kenyon College where he met Randall Jarrell, John Crowe Ransom and Anthony Hecht.

Initially he was an exponent of traditional verse forms but with the publication of his ground breaking collection Life Studies in 1959 he embraced free verse. He also embraced a confessional style of writing which would prove highly influential for younger poets.

He married for the first time in 1940 and also became a fanatical convert to Catholicism. His first collection Land of Unlikeness appeared in 1944 and highlighted the conflict between his new-found faith and his Boston ancestry.

During World War II Lowell was jailed for six months for being a conscientious objector - experiences which he later recorded in his poem Memories of West Street and Lepke.

The Lowell family - one of the oldest and most prominent of Boston families - had already produced two previous poets: James Russell Lowell (1819-91) and the experimental poet Amy Lowell (1874-1925).

Lowell was bi-polar and was hospitalised on a number of occasions. Later in life he started taking lithium which helped relieve some of the symptoms - but he was still anxious about his condition.

He spent many of his final years in England following his third marriage to the novelist Caroline Blackwood in 1973. Lowell's final collection of verse Day by Day was published in the year of his death.

He died suddenly of a heart attack on 12 September 1977 whilst on his way to New York.

One night you dreamed
you were a mermaid clinging to a wharf-pile,
and trying to pull
off the barnacles with your hands.
 
We wished our two souls 
might return like gulls
to the rock. In the end,
the water was too cold for us.

From Water

 

 


 

 

 
 
 
 

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