Collected Poems

Overview

Frank Bidart and David Gewanter have compiled the definitive edition of Robert Lowell's work, from his first, impossible-to-find collection, Land of Unlikeness; to the early triumph of Lord Weary's Castle, winner of the 1946 Pulitzer Prize; to the brilliant willfulness of his versions of poems by Sappho, Baudelaire, Rilke, Montale, and other masters in Imitations; to the late spontaneity of The Dolphin, winner of another Pulitzer Prize; to his last, most searching book, Day by Day. This volume also includes poems...

See more details below
Paperback (First Edition)
$22.87
BN.com price
(Save 23%)$30.00 List Price

Pick Up In Store

Reserve and pick up in 60 minutes at your local store

Other sellers (Paperback)
  • All (23) from $6.24   
  • New (14) from $17.81   
  • Used (9) from $6.24   
Sending request ...

Overview

Frank Bidart and David Gewanter have compiled the definitive edition of Robert Lowell's work, from his first, impossible-to-find collection, Land of Unlikeness; to the early triumph of Lord Weary's Castle, winner of the 1946 Pulitzer Prize; to the brilliant willfulness of his versions of poems by Sappho, Baudelaire, Rilke, Montale, and other masters in Imitations; to the late spontaneity of The Dolphin, winner of another Pulitzer Prize; to his last, most searching book, Day by Day. This volume also includes poems and translations never previously collected, and a selection of drafts that demonstrate the poet's constant drive to reimagine his work. Collected Poems at last offers readers the opportunity to take in, in its entirety, one of the great careers in twentieth-century poetry.

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Long awaited and much anticipated, [Collected Poems] is a show-stopping assertion of Lowell's ambition, industry and art." —Carmine Starnino, The Boston Globe

"[The new collection of Robert Lowell's poems] will doubtless stand as The Work . . . Long awaited, richly documented, and, yes, definitive." —Peter Davidson, The Atlantic Monthly

"This wonderfully definitive, long-awaited new edition gives us the full scope of a courageous, tormented, shocking, and brilliant American poet." —The Washington Post

The New York Times
[The] introduction (quite properly) doesn't make a case for Lowell's pre-eminence as a 20th-century American poet, but stresses instead the editors' attempt to look at every published instance of a Lowell poem and to include, in their notes, versions and lines that appeared elsewhere than in the published volumes. It is good to have included, among many other things in the notes and appendixes, magazine versions of such central poems to the Lowell canon as ''Beyond the Alps'' and ''Waking Early Sunday Morning.'' But I would hazard that, just as is the case with Yeats or Auden -- other great revisers of their own verse -- Lowell's interest for us does not depend upon his revisionary zealousness or obsession. — William H. Pritchard
The Los Angeles Times
Regardless of the current state of the poet's reputation or how often his name is bandied about by lesser lights, the magnitude of Lowell's achievement — an achievement won against horrific odds — can now come fully and magnificently into view. "We only live between / before we are and what we were," Lowell once wrote, but his work in this Collected Poems stands secure, timeless, outside the relatively brief span that was his bedeviled life. — Caroline Fraser
The Washington Post
Poems such as the frequently anthologized "Skunk Hour" also crave that freedom, even as they diagnose the sickness and decay of an old order. Lowell, with the double burden of his madness and his distinguished New England heritage, thirsted for liberation more than most. He ultimately found it in several places -- by becoming a conscientious objector during World War II, by befriending Southern writers such as Peter Taylor and Randall Jarrell, by participating in the political life of the 1960s -- but nowhere is his pained quest more obvious than in Collected Poems, a monument to his sprawling, untidy talent and his courageous attempts to make it cohere. — Sunil Iyengar
Publishers Weekly
One can't help, reading through this massive, spellbinding volume, mourning some of what has been lost in American poetry since the Partisan Review crowd was in the ascendant. Lowell's work evinces a contagious earnestness about writing (and rewriting) poetry in a bid for immortality, and an intellectual aggressiveness that is more ethical than metaphysical in nature (like Auden, Lowell's pacifist politics were often transparent). Lowell's embodied, phantasmagoric sense of history and geography highlights his generation's greater chronological proximity to Pound and, before him, Robert Browning. And the imagistic impulse that fueled much mid-century poetry is best typified by Lowell's unerring sense of visual detail: "...octagonal red tiles,/ sweaty with a secret dank, crummy with ant-stale;/ a Rocky Mountain chaise lounge,/ its legs, shellacked saplings." The greatest misfortune of Lowell's critical reception is that he has been lastingly deemed a confessional poet; as Bidart's closing essay notes, not only did Lowell carefully sift through details to preserve those with greatest aesthetic effect, but these details themselves were sometimes stolen from the lives of his peers. Either way, fans will be delighted to see the full version of The Mills of the Kavanaughs (which was cut down to a handful of stanzas for the Selected Poems) as well as the complete Land of Unlikeness, Lowell's debut which he never allowed to be reprinted. Not enough can be said to encourage the reader to absorb, and even attack, this book. From the earliest poems to several late, unfinished works, Lowell's style-"lurid, rapid, garish, grouped/ heightened from life,/ yet paralyzed by fact"-emerges as a sweeping constant, one that revealingly manages to accommodate successive poetic challenges and misreadings. (June) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
Credited with enlivening the practice of formal English prosody in America and for creating what became known (to his dismay) as confessional poetry, Lowell attained a literary stature as great as T.S. Eliot's a generation before. The authoritative rhythmic stride ("The sheep start galloping in moon-blind wheels") and complex music of his postwar work ("In Munich the zoo's rubble fumes with cats") eased into an unadorned candor ("Shaving's the one time I see my face,/ I see it aslant as a carpenter's problem-") by the mid-1970s. This mammoth collection includes the complete contents of Lowell's published books, from Land of Unlikeness, appearing here for the first time since 1944, through 1977's Day by Day, as well as poems in manuscript, translations, magazine versions, and other fugitive material. Given Lowell's penchant for revision, the editors have also included significant variants in their extensive endnotes. Though this volume might have benefited from a concise, introductory overview of Lowell's life and work, it is an essential addition for academic libraries.-Fred Muratori, Cornell Univ. Lib., Ithaca, NY Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780374530327
  • Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
  • Publication date: 3/20/2007
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 1216
  • Sales rank: 545,825
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 2.20 (d)

Meet the Author

Robert Lowell (1917-77) was the renowned and controversial author of many books of poetry, including Day by Day (FSG, 1977), For the Union Dead (FSG, 1964), and Life Studies (FSG, 1959).

Read More Show Less

Read an Excerpt

Collected Poems


By Robert Lowell

Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Copyright © 2003 Harriet Lowell and Sheridan Lowell
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0374126178


Chapter One

Lord Weary's Castle

(1946)

TO JEAN

The Exile's Return There mounts in squalls a sort of rusty mire, Not ice, not snow, to leaguer the Hôtel De Ville, where braced pig-iron dragons grip The blizzard to their rigor mortis. A bell Grumbles when the reverberations strip The thatching from its spire, The search-guns click and spit and split up timber And nick the slate roofs on the Holstenwall Where torn-up tilestones crown the victor. Fall And winter, spring and summer, guns unlimber And lumber down the narrow gabled street Past your gray, sorry and ancestral house Where the dynamited walnut tree Shadows a squat, old, wind-torn gate and cows The Yankee commandant. You will not see Strutting children or meet The peg-leg and reproachful chancellor With a forget-me-not in his button-hole When the unseasoned liberators roll Into the Market Square, ground arms before The Rathaus; but already lily-stands Burgeon the risen Rhineland, and a rough Cathedral lifts its eye. Pleasant enough, Voi ch'entrate, and your life is in your hands. The Holy Innocents Listen, the hay-bells tinkle as the cart Wavers on rubber tires along the tar And cindered ice below the burlap mill And ale-wife run. The oxen drool and start In wonder at the fenders of a car, And blunder hugely up St. Peter's hill. These are the undefiled by woman-their Sorrow is not the sorrow of this world: King Herod shrieking vengeance at the curled Up knees of Jesus choking in the air, A king of speechless clods and infants. Still The world out-Herods Herod; and the year, The nineteen-hundred forty-fifth of grace, Lumbers with losses up the clinkered hill Of our purgation; and the oxen near The worn foundations of their resting-place, The holy manger where their bed is corn And holly torn for Christmas. If they die, As Jesus, in the harness, who will mourn? Lamb of the shepherds, Child, how still you lie. Colloquy in Black Rock Here the jack-hammer jabs into the ocean; My heart, you race and stagger and demand More blood-gangs for your nigger-brass percussions, Till I, the stunned machine of your devotion, Clanging upon this cymbal of a hand, Am rattled screw and footloose. All discussions End in the mud-flat detritus of death. My heart, beat faster, faster. In Black Mud Hungarian workmen give their blood For the martyre Stephen, who was stoned to death. Black Mud, a name to conjure with: O mud For watermelons gutted to the crust, Mud for the mole-tide harbor, mud for mouse, Mud for the armored Diesel fishing tubs that thud A year and a day to wind and tide; the dust Is on this skipping heart that shakes my house, House of our Savior who was hanged till death. My heart, beat faster, faster. In Black Mud Stephen the martyre was broken down to blood: Our ransom is the rubble of his death. Christ walks on the black water. In Black Mud Darts the kingfisher. On Corpus Christi, heart, Over the drum-beat of St. Stephen's choir I hear him, Stupor Mundi, and the mud Flies from his hunching wings and beak-my heart, The blue kingfisher dives on you in fire. Christmas in Black Rock Christ God's red shadow hangs upon the wall The dead leaf's echo on these hours Whose burden spindles to no breath at all; Hard at our heels the huntress moonlight towers And the green needles bristle at the glass Tiers of defense-plants where the treadmill night Churns up Long Island Sound with piston-fist. Tonight, my child, the lifeless leaves will mass, Heaving and heaping, as the swivelled light Burns on the bell-spar in the fruitless mist. Christ Child, your lips are lean and evergreen Tonight in Black Rock, and the moon Sidles outside into the needle-screen And strikes the hand that feeds you with a spoon Tonight, as drunken Polish night-shifts walk Over the causeway and their juke-box booms Hosannah in excelsis Domino. Tonight, my child, the foot-loose hallows stalk Us down in the blind alleys of our rooms; By the mined root the leaves will overflow. December, old leech, has leafed through Autumn's store Where Poland has unleashed its dogs To bay the moon upon the Black Rock shore: Under our windows, on the rotten logs The moonbeam, bobbing like an apple, snags The undertow. O Christ, the spiralling years Slither with child and manger to a ball Of ice; and what is man? We tear our rags To hang the Furies by their itching ears, And the green needles nail us to the wall. New Year's Day Again and then again ... the year is born To ice and death, and it will never do To skulk behind storm-windows by the stove To hear the postgirl sounding her French horn When the thin tidal ice is wearing through. Here is the understanding not to love Our neighbor, or tomorrow that will sieve Our resolutions. While we live, we live To snuff the smoke of victims. In the snow The kitten heaved its hindlegs, as if fouled, And died. We bent it in a Christmas box And scattered blazing weeds to scare the crow Until the snake-tailed sea-winds coughed and howled For alms outside the church whose double locks Wait for St. Peter, the distorted key. Under St. Peter's bell the parish sea Swells with its smelt into the burlap shack Where Joseph plucks his hand-lines like a harp, And hears the fearful Puer natus est Of Circumcision, and relives the wrack And howls of Jesus whom he holds. How sharp The burden of the Law before the beast: Time and the grindstone and the knife of God. The Child is born in blood, O child of blood. The Quaker Graveyard in Nantucket (FOR WARREN WINSLOW, DEAD AT SEA) Let man have dominion over the fishes of the sea and the fowls of the air and the beasts and the whole earth, and every creeping creature that moveth upon the earth. I. A brackish reach of shoal off Madaket,- The sea was still breaking violently and night Had steamed into our North Atlantic Fleet, When the drowned sailor clutched the drag-net. Light Flashed from his matted head and marble leer, He grappled at the net With the coiled, hurdling muscles of his thighs: The corpse was bloodless, a botch of reds and whites, Its open, staring eyes Were lustreless dead-lights Or cabin-windows on a stranded hulk Heavy with sand. We weight the body, close Its eyes and heave it seaward whence it came, Where the heel-headed dogfish barks its nose On Ahab's void and forehead; and the name Is blocked in yellow chalk. Sailors, who pitch this portent at the sea Where dreadnaughts shall confess Its hell-bent deity, When you are powerless To sand-bag this Atlantic bulwark, faced By the earth-shaker, green, unwearied, chaste In his steel scales: ask for no Orphean lute To pluck life back. The guns of the steeled fleet Recoil and then repeat The hoarse salute. II. Whenever winds are moving and their breath Heaves at the roped-in bulwarks of this pier, The terns and sea-gulls tremble at your death In these home waters. Sailor, can you hear The Pequod's sea wings, beating landward, fall Headlong and break on our Atlantic wall Off 'Sconset, where the yawing S-boats splash The bellbuoy, with ballooning spinnakers, As the entangled, screeching mainsheet clears The blocks: off Madaket, where lubbers lash The heavy surf and throw their long lead squids For blue-fish? Sea-gulls blink their heavy lids Seaward. The winds' wings beat upon the stones, Cousin, and scream for you and the claws rush At the sea's throat and wring it in the slush Of this old Quaker graveyard where the bones Cry out in the long night for the hurt beast Bobbing by Ahab's whaleboats in the East. III. All you recovered from Poseidon died With you, my cousin, and the harrowed brine Is fruitless on the blue beard of the god, Stretching beyond us to the castles in Spain, Nantucket's westward haven. To Cape Cod Guns, cradled on the tide, Blast the eelgrass about a waterclock Of bilge and backwash, roil the salt and sand Lashing earth's scaffold, rock Our warships in the hand Of the great God, where time's contrition blues Whatever it was these Quaker sailors lost In the mad scramble of their lives. They died When time was open-eyed, Wooden and childish; only bones abide There, in the nowhere, where their boats were tossed Sky-high, where mariners had fabled news Of IS, the whited monster. What it cost Them is their secret. In the sperm-whale's slick I see the Quakers drown and hear their cry: "If God himself had not been on our side, If God himself had not been on our side, When the Atlantic rose against us, why, Then it had swallowed us up quick." IV. This is the end of the whaleroad and the whale Who spewed Nantucket bones on the thrashed swell And stirred the troubled waters to whirlpools To send the Pequod packing off to hell: This is the end of them, three-quarters fools, Snatching at straws to sail Seaward and seaward on the turntail whale, Spouting out blood and water as it rolls, Sick as a dog to these Atlantic shoals: Clamavimus, 0 depths. Let the sea-gulls wail For water, for the deep where the high tide Mutters to its hurt self, mutters and ebbs. Waves wallow in their wash, go out and out, Leave only the death-rattle of the crabs, The beach increasing, its enormous snout Sucking the ocean's side. This is the end of running on the waves; We are poured out like water. Who will dance The mast-lashed master of Leviathans Up from this field of Quakers in their unstoned graves? V. When the whale's viscera go and the roll Of its corruption overruns this world Beyond tree-swept Nantucket and Woods Hole And Martha's Vineyard, Sailor, will your sword Whistle and fall and sink into the fat? In the great ash-pit of Jehoshaphat The bones cry for the blood of the white whale, The fat flukes arch and whack about its ears, The death-lance churns into the sanctuary, tears The gun-blue swingle, heaving like a flail, And hacks the coiling life out: it works and drags And rips the sperm-whale's midriff into rags, Gobbets of blubber spill to wind and weather, Sailor, and gulls go round the stoven timbers Where the morning stars sing out together And thunder shakes the white surf and dismembers The red flag hammered in the mast-head. Hide Our steel, Jonas Messias, in Thy side. VI. OUR LADY OF WALSINGHAM There once the penitents took off their shoes And then walked barefoot the remaining mile; And the small trees, a stream and hedgerows file Slowly along the munching English lane, Like cows to the old shrine, until you lose Track of your dragging pain. The stream flows down under the druid tree, Shiloah's whirlpools gurgle and make glad The castle of God. Sailor, you were glad And whistled Sion by that stream. But see: Our Lady, too small for her canopy, Sits near the altar. There's no comeliness At all or charm in that expressionless Face with its heavy eyelids. As before, This face, for centuries a memory, Non est species, neque decor, Expressionless, expresses God: it goes Past castled Sion. She knows what God knows, Not Calvary's Cross nor crib at Bethlehem Now, and the world shall come to Walsingham. VII. The empty winds are creaking and the oak Splatters and splatters on the cenotaph, The boughs are trembling and a gaff Bobs on the untimely stroke Of the greased wash exploding on a shoal-bell In the old mouth of the Atlantic. It's well; Atlantic, you are fouled with the blue sailors, Sea-monsters, upward angel, downward fish: Unmarried and corroding, spare of flesh Mart once of supercilious, wing'd clippers, Atlantic, where your bell-trap guts its spoil You could cut the brackish winds with a knife Here in Nantucket, and cast up the time When the Lord God formed man from the sea's slime And breathed into his face the breath of life, And blue-lung'd combers lumbered to the kill. The Lord survives the rainbow of His will. The First Sunday in Lent I. IN THE ATTIC The crooked family chestnut sighs, for March, Time's fool, is storming up and down the town; The gray snow squelches and the well-born stamp From sermons in a scolded, sober mob That wears away the Sabbath with a frown, A world below my window. What will clamp The weak-kneed roots together when the damp Aches like a conscience, and they grope to rob The hero under his triumphal arch? This is the fifth floor attic where I hid My stolen agates and the cannister Preserved from Bunker Hill-feathers and guns, Matchlock and flintlock and percussion-cap; Gettysburg etched upon the cylinder Of Father's Colt. A Lüger of a Hun, Once blue as Satan, breaks Napoleon, My china pitcher. Cartridge boxes trap A chipmunk on the saber where they slid. On Troy's last day, alas, the populous Shrines held carnival, and girls and boys Flung garlands to the wooden horse; so we Burrow into the lion's mouth to die. Lord, from the lust and dust thy will destroys Raise an unblemished Adam who will see The limbs of the tormented chestnut tree Tingle, and hear the March-winds lift and cry: "The Lord of Hosts will overshadow us." II. THE FERRIS WHEEL This world, this ferris wheel, is tired and strains Its townsman's humorous and bulging eye, As he ascends and lurches from his seat And dangles by a shoe-string overhead To tell the racing world that it must die. Who can remember what his father said? The little wheel is turning on the great In the white water of Christ's blood. The red Eagle of Ares swings along the lanes Of camp-stools where the many watch the sky: The townsman hangs, the eagle swings. It stoops And lifts the ferris wheel into the tent Pitched for the devil. But the man works loose, He drags and zigzags through the circus hoops, And lion-taming Satan bows and loops His cracking tail into a hangman's noose; He is the only happy man in Lent. He laughs into my face until I cry.

Continues...


Excerpted from Collected Poems by Robert Lowell Copyright © 2003 by Harriet Lowell and Sheridan Lowell
Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

Read More Show Less

Table of Contents

Introduction: "You Didn't Write, You Rewrote" vii
A Note on the Text xvii
Lord Weary's Castle (1946) 3
The Mills of the Kavanaughs (1951) 71
Life Studies (1959) 109
Imitations (1961) 193
For the Union Dead (1964) 317
Near the Ocean (1967) 379
History (1973) 419
For Lizzie and Harriet (1973) 605
The Dolphin (1973) 643
Day by Day (1977) 709
Last Poems (1977) 849
Appendices 855
I Land of Unlikeness (1944) 857
II Akhmatova and Mandelstam 895
III Magazine Versions 925
IV Two Sequences from Notebook 939
V Uncollected Poems 951
VI Poems in Manuscript 965
VII "After Enjoying Six or Seven Essays on Me" 989
Afterword: "On 'Confessional' Poetry" 995
Notes 1005
Glossary 1161
Chronology 1165
Selected Bibliography 1169
Acknowledgments 1171
Index of Titles 1173
Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Be the first to write a review
( 0 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(0)

4 Star

(0)

3 Star

(0)

2 Star

(0)

1 Star

(0)

Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Noble.com Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & Noble.com that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & Noble.com does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at BN.com or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation

Reminder:

  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & Noble.com and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Noble.com Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & Noble.com reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & Noble.com also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on BN.com. It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

 
Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously

    If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
    Why is this product inappropriate?
    Comments (optional)