amy lowell – poems

Ombre Chinoise

Red foxgloves against a yellow wall

streaked with plum-coloured shadows;

A lady with a blue and red sunshade;

The slow dash of waves upon a parapet.

That is all.

Non-existent– immortal–

As solid as the centre of a ring of fine gold


My cup is empty to-night,

Cold and dry are its sides,

Chilled by the wind from the open window.

Empty and void, it sparkles white in the moonlight.

The room is filled with the strange scent

Of wistaria blossoms.

They sway in the moon’s radiance

And tap against the wall.

But the cup of my heart is still,

And cold, and empty.

When you come, it brims

Red and trembling with blood,

Heart’s blood for your drinking;

To fill your mouth with love

And the bitter-sweet taste of a soul.

The Bungler

You glow in my heart

Like the flames of uncontrolled candles.

But when I go to warm my hands,

My clumsiness overturns the light,

and then I stumble

Against the tables and chairs.


What is poetry? Is it a mosaic

Of coloured stones which curiously are wrought

Into a pattern? Rather glass that’s taught

By patient labor any hue to take

And glowing with a sumptuous splendor, make

Beauty a thing of awe; where sunbeams caught,

Transmuted fall in sheafs of rainbows fraught

With storied meaning for religion’s sake.


They sat in a circle with their coffee-cups.

One dropped in a lump of sugar,

One stirred with a spoon.

I saw them as a circle of ghosts

Sipping blackness out of beautiful china,

And mildly protesting against my coarseness

In being alive.


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