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Featured Poem: The Pike by Amy Lowell

Written by Chris Routledge, 11th September 2017

We've turned to the archives for this week's Featured Poem and thrust this lesser known poet back into the spotlight, Amy Lowell and her poem The Pike.

Pulitzer Prize-winning American poet Amy Lowell (1874-1925) was practically forgotten for most of the second half of the twentieth century. Her poetry was considered either too controversial--many of her poems are love poems addressed to a woman--or simply outdated. Lowell was a devotee of the imagist aesthetic, roughly the idea that direct description and natural rhythm could be more ‘true’ to a moment or a scene than the more regimented and elaborate approach of Victorian poetry. She helped support and publish poets such as H.D., Richard Aldington, and D.H. Lawrence, among others, editing a series of anthologies and acting as their publicist. She was also a biographer of Keats. This poem, The Pike is a fine example of Lowell’s economy in description, capturing perfectly the summer light on water and the movement and drama of the mysterious fish.

The Pike

In the brown water,
Thick and silver-sheened in the sunshine,
Liquid and cool in the shade of the reeds,
A pike dozed.
Lost among the shadows of stems
He lay unnoticed.
Suddenly he flicked his tail,
And a green-and-copper brightness
Ran under the water.

Out from under the reeds
Came the olive-green light,
And orange flashed up
Through the sun-thickened water.
So the fish passed across the pool,
Green and copper,
A darkness and a gleam,
And the blurred reflections of the willows on the opposite bank
Received it.

Amy Lowell

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