Photograph of Amy Lowell

Welcome back to the Richmond Read-along! Today’s poem is from Amy Lowell, an American poet, author, critic and dedicated advocate of poetry. Lowell’s poetry wasn’t published until she was in her 30s; however she soon became a poetic force, producing a huge amount of influential work and dedicating her life to promoting poetry to the American public. Lowell was particularly enamoured of Imagism, with its beautiful imagery and verses. She travelled to London to learn from poets writing in the style, contributing to and eventually editing anthologies of Imagist poetry. Back in the United States, she travelled and lectured on the importance of poetry, as well as writing extensively. She was a great critic and supporter of contemporary poetry, but also a huge fan of Keats – she collected his work and eventually wrote a 1300 page biography of him.

Lowell published many lauded collections of poetry before her death, and more of her work was published posthumously by her partner Ada Dwyer Russell – including “What’s O’Clock,” which was awarded a Pulitzer Prize.

The poem we are reading today is “Azure and Gold:”

“April had covered the hills
With flickering yellows and reds,
The sparkle and coolness of snow
Was blown from the mountain beds.

Across a deep-sunken stream
The pink of blossoming trees,
And from windless appleblooms
The humming of many bees.

The air was of rose and gold
Arabesqued with the song of birds
Who, swinging unseen under leaves,
Made music more eager than words.

Of a sudden, aslant the road,
A brightness to dazzle and stun,
A glint of the bluest blue,
A flash from a sapphire sun.

Blue-birds so blue, ‘t was a dream,
An impossible, unconceived hue,
The high sky of summer dropped down
Some rapturous ocean to woo.

Such a colour, such infinite light!
The heart of a fabulous gem,
Many-faceted, brilliant and rare.
Centre Stone of the earth’s diadem!

Centre Stone of the Crown of the World,
“Sincerity” graved on your youth!
And your eyes hold the blue-bird flash,
The sapphire shaft, which is truth.”

You can find this poem, and others by Lowell, at Read more about Lowell at the Poetry Foundation.

Join us tomorrow for the next Richmond Read-along!