Forty-Six Years of Amy Lowell Fandom

When I was in second grade I edited my first book of poetry. All the poems I chose had fall as the theme and I decorated the cover of the book with autumn leaves, witches’ hats and a jack l’lantern.

One of the poems I carefully copied into my book(not carefully enough: note the message stamp from my teacher, Mrs. Andersen) was The City of Falling Leaves by Amy Lowell. I could not have imagined that forty-six years later I would write a book about Amy Lowell, and the fascinating family from which she sprung.

For those past forty-six years, I have relied on poetry, again and again, for comfort and joy and understanding. Words are the balm to my soul, and poetry places those words in a form that is easily absorbed.

Poetry can charge the very air I walk through with energy and meaning: today I looked out across a field of grass punctuated by tupelo and surrounded by tall elm and pine trees, and saw every color in the range of orange and gold and red, and yes, even brown. I understood then how huge a place I live in, and how grand a gift this life has been.

I thought back to Amy’s poem, so simple and yet so absolutely right. She wrote the poem about Venice — how could she have known it would become my favorite city in the world? But for leaves in the fall — and for falling leaves — there is no place like New England.

The City of Falling Leaves
by Amy Lowell

Leaves fall,
Brown leaves,
Yellow leaves streaked with brown.
They fall,
Fall again.
The brown leaves,
And the streaked yellow leaves,
Loosen on their branches
And drift slowly downwards.
One, two, three,
One, two, five.
All Venice is a falling of Autumn leaves — 
And yellow streaked with brown.