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        Robert Lowell








        Novelist, Poet

        date of birth

        March 01, 1917

        place of birth

        Boston, Massachusetts

        date of death

        September 12, 1977

        place of death

        New York City, New York

        place of burial

        Stark Cemetery, Dunbarton, New Hampshire

        Rip's Impressions

        The first of what would be a long list of Confessional Poets in the latter half of the 20th century. One of Boston's and America's bluest blood families Lowell's poetry cannot be separated from this identity as a New England blue stocking raised as an only child with a rocky upbringing. This family background proved the fodder for his best long poems, mapping New England in his poems the way Robert Frost did for Vermont Woods. A precocious angry and pyschotic youth, he earned his first Pulitzer before he was thirty, a manic depressant with bouts of great paranoia verging on the schizophrenic, he was in out of institutions his whole life, yet somehow in between he who wrote classic American verse. Starting out as a traditionalist poest, who corresponded with TS Eliot, the influence of WC Williams moved him to create his own hybrid between formal metered lines with informal blank verse, which when matured would earn him another Pulitzer before he was fifty. Cal was the name he chose for himself at boarding school, as he liked to be called, few knew that he chose it as short for Caligula.

        literary tidbits


        It was a Maine lobster town—
        each morning boatloads of hands
        pushed off for granite
        quarries on the islands,

        and left dozens of bleak
        white frame houses stuck
        like oyster shells
        on a hill of rock,

        and below us, the sea lapped
        the raw little match-stick
        mazes of a weir,
        where the fish for bait were trapped.

        Remember? We sat on a slab of rock.
        From this distance in time
        it seems the color
        of iris, rotting and turning purpler,

        but it was only
        the usual gray rock
        turning the usual green
        when drenched by the sea.

        The sea drenched the rock
        at our feet all day,
        and kept tearing away
        flake after flake.

        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.


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