Robert Lowell (originally Robert Traill Spence Lowell), one of the finest American poets of the 20th century, was born on 1st March, 1917. He gets a very high place in the list of confessional poets of this world. We find a great mixture of historical facts and literary art in his poems.
Robert Lowell was born in one of the oldest and famous families of Boston, Massachusetts. Boston has been one of the cultural and educational hubs of America; therefore we can understand the fact that the place of birth of he played a great role in enhancing Lowell’s poetic talent.
Robert Lowell was born in one of the most cultured and educated families of Boston. Robert was born in such a family that had already given birth to poets like Amy Lowell and J.R.Lowell; Charlotte Winslow, mother of Robert Lowell, was a direct descendent of William Samuel Johnson. Thus the art and cultural background of Robert’s family gave him the right platform to blossom. Lowell was admitted at St. Mark’s School in Southborough and then he went on to spend two years at the great Harvard College before transferring to Kenyon College in Gambier.
Robert Lowell’s life started changing after his arrival at the Kenyon College. At Kenyon College he gathered thorough knowledge of poetry under the guidance of John Crowe Ransom. Here he not only started writing but also took writing as a career. Infact he was hugely influenced by Ransom and he was converted to Catholicism. During his graduation course at Louisiana University, Robert Lowell studied with the names like Robert Penn Warren and Cleanth Brooks. The impact of Catholicism can be clearly found in the first two works of Lowell; Land of Unlikeness (1944) & Lord Weary’s Castle (1946). Robert Lowell received Pulitzer Prize in 1947 for Lord Weary’s Castle. After converted into Catholicism, Lowell started exploring the dark sides of American Puritan Legacy. We can find the touch of reality and questions of history in his works. Robert Lowell mainly wrote rigorously formal poetry and the second world war moved him so much that Robert Lowell became a conscientious objector and was imprisoned during this time. During the 1960s Robert Lowell actively participated in civil rights movement and strongly opposed the US action in Vietnam. Robert Lowell participation in the peace march of October 1967 in Washington DC and his life in jail is described in Norman Mailer’s The Armies of the Night. He suffered from manic depression and alcohol. Robert was married to Jean Stafford from 1940 to 1948, then Elizabeth Hardwick in 1949 and at last he married Lady Caroline Blackwood in 1970. He died from a heart attack in 1977 at the age of 60.
Life of Robert Lowell had undergone many changes at a span of 60 years. The concept of Catholicism haunted him a lot. He was hurt to see the devastating reactions of the 2nd World War. Also he was not that happy with his married life.
Some of the famous poems of Robert Lowell are; Day by Day (1977) History (1973) Imitations (1961) Land of Unlikeness (1944) Lord Weary’s Castle (1946) Near the Ocean (1967) Selected poems (1976) The mills of the Kayanaughs (1951) Prose: The collected Prose (1987) Drama: The Old Glory (1965)
Robert Lowell got Pulitzer Prize in 1947 for his outstanding work in Lord Weary’s Castle.