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Featured Poem: Amy Lowell, ‘Carrefour’

Written by Chris Routledge, 23rd June 2008

This week's poem is selected by poet Rebecca Goss.

The word 'carrefour' means crossroads, a heady, allegorical title, but we have been at the very edge of something happening here.  Considering when Lowell was writing, it makes me like this poem even more.  Such sexual urgency and vulnerability, how passive 'she' is to her visitor, lying down, wet from bathing.  Such submission to the violent feeling of love and yet love's beauty is here too.  Look at that language, 'strangle', 'wild', 'mercy', mixed with the delicate purity of 'bees' and 'white honey'.  The word 'strangle' is an interesting one.  Lowell's use of dense sensual imagery (all five senses employed in seven lines), leaves the reader at the end, as breathless as the voice in the poem.


O you,
Who came upon me once
Stretched under apple-trees just after bathing
Why did you not strangle me before speaking
Rather than fill me with the wild white honey of your words
And then leave me to the mercy
Of the forest bees?

Amy Lowell (1874-1925)


Rebecca Goss is a Liverpool poet whose work has appeared in  literary magazines including The Reader, Ambit, Stand, Magma, Mslexia, The Interpreter's House and Smiths Knoll. She regularly gives readings in the city and you can next hear her read on Thursday July 24th, at the Costa Poetry Readings Series, Costa Coffee, Bold Street, Liverpool, 7.30pm.  She is also supporting Paul Durcan at The Bluecoat Centre, School Lane, Liverpool, Wednesday October 15th, 2008 and is 'coming soon' on, a directory of modern poets, where you will be able to read some of her work and discover her favourite poetry links.

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