Epilogue

By Robert Lowell 1917–1977 Robert Lowell
Those blessèd structures, plot and rhyme—
why are they no help to me now
I want to make
something imagined, not recalled?
I hear the noise of my own voice:
The painter’s vision is not a lens,
it trembles to caress the light.
But sometimes everything I write   
with the threadbare art of my eye
seems a snapshot,
lurid, rapid, garish, grouped,
heightened from life,
yet paralyzed by fact.
All’s misalliance.
Yet why not say what happened?
Pray for the grace of accuracy
Vermeer gave to the sun’s illumination
stealing like the tide across a map
to his girl solid with yearning.
We are poor passing facts,
warned by that to give
each figure in the photograph
his living name.

Robert Lowell, “Epilogue” from Day by Day. Copyright © 1977 by Robert Lowell. Reprinted with the permission of Farrar, Straus & Giroux, LLC.

Source: Day by Day (1977)

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Poet Robert Lowell 1917–1977

POET’S REGION U.S., New England

SCHOOL / PERIOD Confessional

Subjects Poetry & Poets, Arts & Sciences

Poetic Terms Confessional

 Robert  Lowell

Biography

Robert Lowell is best known for his volume Life Studies, but his true greatness as an American poet lies in the astonishing variety of his work. In the 1940s he wrote intricate and tightly patterned poems that incorporated traditional meter and rhyme; in the late 1950s when he published Life Studies, he began to write startlingly original personal or "confessional" poetry in much looser forms and meters; in the 1960s he wrote . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Poetry & Poets, Arts & Sciences

POET’S REGION U.S., New England

SCHOOL / PERIOD Confessional

Poetic Terms Confessional

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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