Amy Lowell “Lilacs” reminds me of Walt Whitman (“When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom’d“) in its reach but its far shorter lines betoken a far different relation between botany and geography than Whitman’s lament. Lowell has us on a whirlwind tour.
Maine knows you,
Has for years and years;
New Hampshire knows you,
Cape Cod starts you along the beaches to Rhode Island;
Connecticut takes you from a river to the sea.
You are brighter than apples,
Sweeter than tulips,
You are the great flood of our souls
Bursting above the leaf-shapes of our hearts,
You are the smell of all Summers […]
New England is Lowell’s purview. Whitman’s is the continent.
Sea-winds blown from east and west,
Blown from the Eastern sea and blown from the Western sea, till there on the prairies meeting,
These and with these and the breath of my chant,
I’ll perfume the grave of him I love.
Lowell claims a country; Whitman, comrades.
And so for day 321