Amy Lowell is classified as an Imagist. Imagist poets, reacting against both Romantic and Victorian poetry represented by such contemporary giants as Longfellow and Tennyson, pushed for language and images that were more direct and precise and a poetic style that was more un-sentimental. In many ways, the Imagist movement can be seen as one of the bridges between the Victorian and Modernist movements.
Amy Lowell was first recommended to me years ago by a woman who knew I liked Marianne Moore. The recommendation was not based on the fact that she knew and liked the poetry of Marianne Moore and Amy Lowell, in fact she knew almost nothing of their poetry. She did, however, know of Lowell from some Feminist History classes she was taking. She found a used copy of Lowell’s Selected Poems and gave it to me as a gift.
“The Taxi” shows all the elements of the Imagist movement: direct language, non-traditional form, the concentration on an image… a thing itself. The first thing you will notice, however, is that even though Lowell died in 1925, everything about this poem seems contemporary. That is what most attracted me to Lowell almost 30 years ago. She seems at times like a contemporary poet.
When I go away from you
The world beats dead
Like a slackened drum.
I call out for you against the jutted stars
And shout into the ridges of the wind.
Streets coming fast,
One after the other,
Wedge you away from me,
And the lamps of the city prick my eyes
So that I can no longer see your face.
Why should I leave you,
To wound myself upon the sharp edges of the night?