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The Garden by Moonlight: AMY LOWELL

A black cat among roses,

Phlox, lilac-misted under a first-quarter moon,

The sweet smells of heliotrope and night-scented stock.

The garden is very still,

It is dazed with moonlight,

Contented with perfume,

Dreaming the opium dreams of its folded poppies.

Firefly lights open and vanish

High as the tip buds of the golden glow

Low as the sweet alyssum flowers at my feet.

Moon-shimmer on leaves and trellises,

Moon-spikes shafting through the snow ball bush.

Only the little faces of the ladies’ delight are alert and staring,

Only the cat, padding between the roses,

Shakes a branch and breaks the chequered pattern

As water is broken by the falling of a leaf.

Then you come,

And you are quiet like the garden,

And white like the alyssum flowers,

And beautiful as the silent sparks of the fireflies.

Ah, Beloved, do you see those orange lilies?

They knew my mother,

But who belonging to me will they know

When I am gone. 

American poet Amy Lowell (1874-1925) published her first poem in 1910 at the age of 36, influenced by the British poet John Keats. In the 1920s, she wrote a biography on Keats. ‘The Garden by Moonlight’ was published in 1919 in her collection, Pictures of the Floating World. Her poetry career spanned only about 12 years, but she wrote and published over 650 poems. Louis Untermeyer wrote in his 1923 book, American Poety since 1900 that Amy Lowell was a ‘poet, propagandist, lecturer, translator, biographer, critic … her verve is almost as remarkable as her verse.’

Photographer: Martina Nicolls

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