The Weather-Cock Points South

I put your leaves aside,
One by one:
The stiff, broad outer leaves;
The smaller ones,
Pleasant to touch, veined with purple;
The glazed inner leaves.
One by one
I parted you from your leaves,
Until you stood up like a white flower
Swaying slightly in the evening wind.

White flower,
Flower of wax, of jade, of unstreaked agate;
Flower with surfaces of ice,
With shadows faintly crimson.
Where in all the garden is there such a flower?
The stars crowd through the lilac leaves
To look at you.
The low moon brightens you with silver.

The bud is more than the calyx.
There is nothing to equal a white bud,
Of no colour, and of all,
Burnished by moonlight,
Thrust upon by a softly-swinging wind.

Amy Lowell

Amy Lowell (1874 – 1925) was born in Massachusetts, United States. She was a poet in the Imagist school, after seeing a poem by H.D. (Hilda Doolittle). In many poems she dispenses with line breaks so that the work looks like prose on the page, a technique she called “polyphonic prose”.

She was an avid reader who collected books. In 1912, she met the actress Ada Dwyer Russell. They travelled widely together and she wrote many love poems for Ada. In England, Lowell met other Imagists, including Ezra Pound (with whom she later fell out). She dressed in manly clothing, wore her hair in a pompadour and smoked cigars.

Her writings included several critical works on French literature and a biography of John Keats.

Amy Lowell died of a cerebral hemorrhage on May 12, 1925, a year before she was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in Poetry for ‘What’s O’Clock’.