Busycon, Amy Lowell, and I

Sea Shell, Sea Shell,
Sing me a song, O Please!
A song of ships, and sailor men,
And parrots, and tropical trees,

Of islands lost in the Spanish Main
Which no man ever may find again,
Of fishes and corals under the waves,
And seahorses stabled in great green caves.

Sea Shell, Sea Shell,
Sing of the things you know so well.

With thanks to poet Amy Lowell (1874-1925) who sounds like the sort of person I would like to have known. It is an understatement to say that I am no student of American Literature but I found it odd that two brief biographies of Ms. Lowell should paint such different pictures of her. An entry at The Poetry Foundation mentions her personal life and lists and discusses, at length, her accomplishments, awards (she won the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry in 1926), influences, and areas of professional and artistic focus. When I turned to Wikipedia I was surprised by the nearly myopic focus on the details of her personal life. When searching for verse to accompany my images of Busycon, the Channeled Welk, I stumbled upon Lowell’s, Sea Shell. I liked the poem but also appreciated the fact that its author was born in the town, outside of Boston, where I grew up. Her brother Percival was a well-known astronomer and namesake of the Lowell Observatory, while brother Abbott is known to me for he presided over my Alma matter from 1909 – 1933. The Wikipedia entry, with its focus on her personal life was, I believe, unbalanced. That being said, she was described as a progressive and intelligent woman of the sort I have been lucky to know, admire, and respect. She was outspoken, opinionated, in possession of a short but imposing figure, and purported to be a lesbian. She kept her hair in a bun, wore a pince-nez, and smoked cigars. Doesn’t she sound just like someone you’d like to get to know?

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