As March, and Women’s History Month, comes to a close, I thought I’d mark the cause by sharing some great poems from some great poets.
Amy Lowell’s “Penumbra“
The Modernist poet Amy Lowell wrote a ton throughout her life. Among the some 650 published poems is “Penumbra,” a beautiful piece that imagines the world, and more specifically, her house, as it will be once she’s gone.
Sitting here in the Summer night,I think of my death.What will it be like for you then?You will see my chairWith its bright chintz coveringStanding in the afternoon sunshine,As now.You will see my narrow tableAt which I have written so many hours.My dogs will push their noses into your hand,And ask—ask—Clinging to you with puzzled eyes.
Lola Ridge’s “Altitude“
Irish-American poet Lola Ridge is perhaps best known for her longer works that explore, in part, the effects of capitalism on the disenfranchised. She was also an influential editor for several avant-garde literary magazines of the time. Her focus on the politics of class can, to a certain degree, be seen even in shorter works such as “Altitude,” a brief poem full of beauty and longing.
How it would be here with you,
Where the wind
That has shaken off its dust in low valleys
Touches one cleanly,
As with a new-washed hand,
Is as the remote hunger of droning things,
But a little silence
Sinking into the great silence.
Marianne Moore’s “Poetry“
Perhaps one of Marianne Moore’s greatest strengths as a poet was her ability to bend and force words into a form while maintaining the raw and forceful feeling of a spontaneous confession. Her prowess can be seen in any number of her poems, but, her mastery, wit, and honesty come to full bore in her take on the very art she worked so hard to create.
the same thing may be said for all of us, that we
do not admire what
we cannot understand
Hilda “H.D.” Doolittle’s “Evening“
Having moved to London prior to start of World War I, H.D. met and befriended the hugely influential Ezra Pound. While a majority of her work focuses on her interest in Greek mythology, the influence of the Imagists such as Pound certainly sneak through in works such as “Evening.”
The light passesfrom ridge to ridge,from flower to flower—the hepaticas, wide-spreadunder the lightgrow faint—the petals reach inward,the blue tips bendtoward the bluer heartand the flowers are lost.
The cornel-buds are still white,but shadows dartfrom the cornel-roots—black creeps from root to root,each leafcuts another leaf on the grass,shadow seeks shadow,then both leafand leaf-shadow are lost.