Thompson’s Lunch Room—Grand Central Station

By Amy Lowell 1874–1925 Amy Lowell
STUDY IN WHITES
Wax-white—
Floor, ceiling, walls.   
Ivory shadows
Over the pavement   
Polished to cream surfaces
By constant sweeping.
The big room is coloured like the petals
Of a great magnolia,   
And has a patina   
Of flower bloom
Which makes it shine dimly
Under the electric lamps.
Chairs are ranged in rows
Like sepia seeds   
Waiting fulfilment.
The chalk-white spot of a cook’s cap
Moves unglossily against the vaguely bright wall—
Dull chalk-white striking the retina like a blow
Thru the wavering uncertainty of steam.
Vitreous-white of glasses with green reflections,
Ice-green carboys, shifting—greener, bluer—with the jar of moving water.
Jagged green-white bowls of pressed glass
Rearing snow-peaks of chipped sugar
Above the lighthouse-shaped castors
Of grey pepper and grey-white salt.
Grey-white placards: “Oyster Stew, Cornbeef Hash, Frankfurters”:
Marble slabs veined with words in meandering lines.   
Dropping on the white counter like horn notes
Through a web of violins,
The flat yellow lights of oranges,
The cube-red splashes of apples,
In high plated épergnes.
The electric clock jerks every half-minute:
“Coming!—Past!”
“Three beef-steaks and a chicken-pie,”
Bawled through a slide while the clock jerks heavily.
A man carries a china mug of coffee to a distant chair.
Two rice puddings and a salmon salad
Are pushed over the counter;
The unfulfilled chairs open to receive them.
A spoon falls upon the floor with the impact of metal striking stone,
And the sound throws across the room
Sharp, invisible zigzags
Of silver.

Amy Lowell, “Thompson’s Lunch Room—Grand Central Station” from The Complete Poetical Works of Amy Lowell. Copyright © 1955 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Copyright © renewed 1983 by Houghton Mifflin Company, Brinton P. Roberts, and G. D'Andelot, Esquire. Reprinted with the permission of Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.

Source: Selected Poems of Amy Lowell (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2002)

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Poet Amy Lowell 1874–1925

POET’S REGION U.S., New England

SCHOOL / PERIOD Imagist

Subjects Eating & Drinking, Activities

Poetic Terms Free Verse, Imagist

 Amy  Lowell

Biography

An oft-quoted remark attributed to poet Amy Lowell applies to both her determined personality and her sense of humor: "God made me a business woman," Lowell is reported to have quipped, "and I made myself a poet." During a career that spanned just over a dozen years, she wrote and published over 650 poems, yet scholars cite Lowell's tireless efforts to awaken American readers to contemporary trends in poetry as her more . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Eating & Drinking, Activities

POET’S REGION U.S., New England

SCHOOL / PERIOD Imagist

Poetic Terms Free Verse, Imagist

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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