'How pleasant it is to spend an evening in this way! I declare that after all there is no enjoyment like reading! How much sooner one tires of any thing than of a book! — When I have a house of my own, I shall be miserable if I have not an excellent library.' No one made any reply. She then yawned again, threw aside her book, and cast her eyes round the room in quest of some amusement. — from Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen (1775-1817)
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June 30, 2017

Only connect: Amy Lowell and Henry James



... Having discovered a new kind of poetry called Imagism, Amy wanted to find out more. The new movement was promoted by Ezra Pound and included a number of poets living in London, including some expat Americans. When Pound published an essay listing the essentials of Imagism in the March 1913 issue of Poetry magazine, Amy read it with avid interest. But there was a secret at the heart of Imagism, Pound wrote ... a mystery that would not be revealed to the general public.
      Amy was intrigued, and then more than intrigued:  She was angry. How dare such a secret be kept from aspiring poets? Who was this Pound,so arrogant and sure of himself, and so determined to bar the gates to the garden in which he himself frolicked?  Amy decided she would hunt down Pound and demand from him the hidden ingredient that might open up her poetry. In the spring of 1913, Amy loaded herself onto a steamer bound for England and went in search of Pound and his circle of poets.
      When Amy finally met Pound and his band of writers in London, it became clear that there were no secrets to be revealed. Imagism was a movement, but it was also a scheme devised by Pound as a way to get noticed. Amy tucked that bit of news away — publicity would become one of her strong suits — and went out to visit Henry James in East Sussex. James was an old friend of her cousin James Russell Lowell. Henry and Amy talked a long while about books and writing and the literary life. When Amy left James' house, she cut a sprig of lavender from his garden. She would keep that sprig always, saved between the pages of a book. It would be a reminder of what she now understood. There was no secret ingredient to writing, whether it was fiction or essays or poetry.  The formula was simple:  hard work, matched by inspiration.  Hard work, she was capable of, she knew, and inspiration was everywhere — in her garden, in conversations, in travels, in love and in friendship. All would serve to guide her in the years to come.

from The Lowells of Massachusetts:  an American family,
by Nina Sankovitch


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