Sunday, April 17, 2016

from Patterns by Amy Lowell

I walk down the garden paths,
And all the daffodils
Are blowing, and the bright blue squills.
I walk down the patterned garden paths
In my stiff, brocaded gown.
With my powdered hair and jewelled fan,
I too am a rare
Pattern. As I wander down
The garden paths.

* * *

When I was in fifth grade, I wrote a book report about Amy Lowell. Afterward, I made a pink construction-paper cover embellished with snatches of her poems. For some reason, as a 10-year-old, I had a feeling for her. I think I must have liked the jeweled imagery, the formality of the pacing, the melodrama of poems such as "Patterns" (1917), with its brocade and prefigured romance and, later, its broken heart. Read the entire long poem, and you will understand that I probably had no clear notion of the eroticism and the misery, not to mention the shadow of the Great War,  underlying the piece. But children know that other worlds exist, and they are always on the lookout for doors.

* * *

In my garden the daffodils are not yet blowing, but the bright blue squills entrance and devastate. There is no other blue like theirs.

* * *

from Patterns by Amy Lowell

I would be the pink and silver as I ran along the paths,
And he would stumble after,
Bewildered by my laughter.
I should see the sun flashing from his sword-hilt and the buckles on his shoes.
I would choose
To lead him in a maze along the patterned paths,
A bright and laughing maze for my heavy-booted lover,
Till he caught me in the shade,
And the buttons of his waistcoat bruised my body as he clasped me,
Aching, melting, unafraid.
With the shadows of the leaves and the sundrops,
And the plopping of the waterdrops,
All about us in the open afternoon
I am very like to swoon
With the weight of this brocade,


Sheila said...

I loved this poem at a similar age too. I think it may have been in our reading anthology. I've thought about it from time to time over the years but never re-read it until today. Thank you Dawn!

Dawn Potter said...

Such odd word choice, too . . . for instance, "plopping." There are many curious things about this poem, and I'm glad to know that you liked it as well.