Amy Lowell, the poet, on Charleston, South Carolina

…”Commerce, are you worth all this?”
Charleston South Carolina. A poem by Amy Lowell, 1874-1925

The park on Chalmers and Meeting StreetsFifteen years is not a long time,
But long enough to build a city over and destroy it.
Long enough to clean a forty-year growth of grass from between cobblestones,
And run street-car lines straight across the heart of romance.
Commerce, are you worth all this? I should like to bring this case to trial:
Prosperity versus Beauty,
Cash Registers teetering in a balance against the comfort of the soul.
Then, to-night, I stood looking through a grilled gate
At an old, dark garden.
Live-oak trees dripped branchfuls of leaves over the wall,
Acacias waved dimly beyond the gate, and the smell of their blossoms
Puffed intermittenly through the wrought-iron scroll-work.
Challenge and solution —
O loveliness of old, decaying, haunted things!
Little streets untouched, shamefully paved,
Full of mist and fragrance on this rainy evening.
“You should come at dawn,” said my friend,
“And see the orioles, and thrushes, and mockingbirds in the garden.”

“Yes,” I said absentmindedly,
And remarked the sharp touch of ivy upon my hand
which rested against the wall.
But I thought to myself,
There is no dawn here, only sunset,
And an evening rain scented with flowers.

– from Literary Charleston, A Lowcountry Reader
Curtis Worthington, 1996, Wyrick & Company, Charleston

I was called to be an artist. And as an old old midwife said to me "If the Lord wants you to do something, you won't have no good luck' til you do." So, here I am, sharing what I love, longing to illuminate the work of art, which is everywhere.

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Posted in architecture, art, Arts & Culture, Charleston South Carolina, creativity, Poetry, Writing
4 comments on “Amy Lowell, the poet, on Charleston, South Carolina
  1. Mike Hutson says:

    Great poem, Charlotte. Amy Lowell’s poem “Magnolia Gardens” publised in “Poetry” for December 1922, on the other hand, created an outcry among the native writers, resulting in a poetry war of sorts, whose participants included Annie Toomer Colcock (1871-1923) among others. Lowell’s offending words included:
    “… So this magenta, Hateful, Reeking with sensuality, Bestial, obscene, I remember you as something to be forgotten…”

  2. Pinkney says:

    I need to more about the poetry war and these two. It seems we many have the same complaints today, eh.

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What’s this?

Welcome to my blog about the Lowcountry of South Carolina, a place proud with beauty, history and art. Sometimes we feel a call, to be, to go, to do. I was called to be an artist, and as an old midwife from Alabama said, “If the good Lord wants you to do something, you won’t have no good luck until you do it.”

So here I am writing about what I know, about the 'under glimmer' as the poet Basho, says, the way I have learned to see, to notice. I am inspired by, and talking about the history and art and culture of this place that has called me to herself. By the ancestors.

My background includes a degree in fine arts from a small private college in Florida, and before that, four years of all girls' boarding school in Asheville. I worked as a professional photographer, helped my children grow up, and now and I love seasoned things, good food, better conversation, beauty, my beloved and beautiful Italian Greyhound, Beau. Moved by the sacred places and stories of this beautiful historic land called the Lowcountry, I am here in spirit and I hope to infect you with my love of this place.

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