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?

15 thoughts on “Busycon, Amy Lowell, and I

  1. I never knew that Amy Lowell was the brother of Percival Lowell. Live and learn. I remember reading her poem “Patterns” in high school or college, and I gather that it may still be her best known poem.

    You noted that the two articles about Amy Lowell differ a lot. I’ve noticed that kind of difference even in newspapers, which most of us probably think are supposed to remain objective (other than on the editorial page). In recent years I’ve come across “news” articles in the New York Times that are so biased that the paper’s motto would have to be changed from “All the news that’s fit to print” to “All the news that’s fit to misprint.”

    • Truth be told I was quite surprised to uncover the disparity. I suppose I have lived a sheltered life and didn’t know such deception existed. Like you, I live and learn. D

  2. I also love the images of the sea shells πŸ™‚ I do recall studying some of her brother’s work and, while he’s primarily known for making popular the false notion that there were canals on Mars, his impact on astronomy, particularly in making it just plain COOL is without doubt.

    • Indeed. To reply to two of your recent comments at the same time … I can report that Gould once penned an essay in Leonardo’s Mountain of Clams and the Diet of Worms (I believe), ‘War of the Worldviews,’ in which he discusses Lowell’s evidence for liquid water, and perhaps even, alien races, on Mars. I know that Gould wrong about Lowell, I hope I have the book and essay title correct. Anyway … if I remember correctly it’s about seeing what one is prepared to see. Thanks for the attentions today Maurice. D

  3. Amy Lowell sounds like a one-of-a-kind for sure! It’s usually those non-conformists that produce the most original work. Love these shell images. The light is amazing. I noticed the barnacles on one. Imagine how long that shell had been in the ocean. Probably longer than you and I. There’s something about shells. I love searching for them. Must be from our childhood summers spent at the beach. Nothing like the sea air either. Can you photograph that? πŸ™‚

    • I found this in the shallows in front of the house. Thought it would make for some nice pictures … I like them. Having lived in parts of the country without sea shells for quite some time, I have fallen out of the habit of shell hunting. Sea air? Yes … I suppose if one were able to capture the tops of waves being cut by the wind in a storm … that would express the movement of sea air. But, the sort that you enjoy while enjoying a day at the beach … no, I can’t think of a way to capture that. I’ll give it some thought.

  4. My biography, Amy Lowell Anew, presents much new material. Much of what has been written about her has been ill informed and some of it quite hostile. She had a very full life and that is not the impression often given of her. I had access to new sources.

    • Wow! Thanks Carl! I’m delighted to get this response from an expert! You know … I thought there was something ‘fishy’ about the Wikipedia entry. For some reason or another its author seemed to have an agenda. In any case I found even that description fascinating enough that, as I said in my post, Ms. Lowell would certainly be someone that I would have loved to have met. What a great lady. They don’t make ’em like that anymore. What say you? Thanks very much for responding and for letting me know that my hunch was on target. I knew, even from her picture, that Amy Lowell couldn’t have been anything but a wonderful person. D

  5. I can’t decide if I like the black or white background more – both give the shell a different “character”.
    As for Wikipedia I always feel it is the better the more hard science is involved – poetry is probably a worst case.

    • Ha! I agree … when interpretation comes into the mix things seem to fall apart. I don’t suppose there can be much argument about physical laws and equations. I use Wikipedia VERY sparingly and not at all, if I can avoid it. Thanks so much for all of your insightful observations today! D PS: I enjoyed lrgendwer’s photos of the wind powered generator … VERY large and VERY impressive. Was this being installed someplace nearby you?

      • Yes, the wind turbines are being installed very close to our home village πŸ™‚ The region of Austria we live in, the ‘county’ (if this is the right term for a region with just about 200.000 people but a local government nonetheless) is now energy autonomous in terms of yearly energy balance. We are privileged because of the strong winds in Eastern Austria – and because there is not much industry to be powered in a rural area. We have huge wind farms with 100s of generators, more than 1MW power each.

        • I just read your response to Joanna and we both agree that folks in your part of the world are ‘so totally’ ahead of the game in terms of power generation. What a wonderful thing to be autonomous, powered by wind and water, and entirely (well .. maybe not ENTIRELY) divorced of fossil fuels. You are SO progressive. I am envious. D

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