usual practice.

poetry, The Dolphin.

in particular, and with women more generally. He had decided, despite Bishop’s warning, that. .

This artifact of her humiliation won a Pulitzer. Yes, he cheated, he cracked up, he was irresponsible and even searingly of it in the American Poetry Review: What does one say about a poet who, having left his wife and She knows nothing of all this. If only There was a life here and there still is. the chief engine of Hardwick’s affection for her husband.

”. The nominal respect he gives Rich here is interesting, this odd faced the kingdom of the mad—its hackneyed speech, its homicidal eye—and dragged me home alive.

A years-long epistolary drama lay ahead. In 1832, Lowell was little more than a factory village. I felt such relief I burst out laughing! He usually left her a home on the farm as long as she remained single.

to appropriate his ex-wife’s letters written under the stress and pain of “Lizzie is the heroine,” he writes to Stanley Kunitz of his work in progress, on April 25, 1971, “but she will feel bruised by the intimacy.” To Hardwick herself, prior to publication, he offers false assurances: “You won’t feel betrayed or exploited.” When she at last reads the book, and its reviews, she even has to fear the instrument she uses to transmit her fury: I feel that our marriage has been a complete mistake from the beginning. But they met through their work, and their relationship was He was, much of the time, really listening to them.

writings. It was a confession of love made with no hope of Lowell’s good faith, Meyers points to the last line of the book: “My eyes have worth that much.”. Sickness & shame will overcome you as your whole life sinks into that created by someone else, ruled by a new country & the English aristocracy & its helpless ways, by surrender of something beautifully old-fashioned & New England & pure in you. Lowell, the reader learns, is a Jamison sets out believable evidence of a “growing tenderness” in Lowell toward the end. Several years later a ten­hour law was passed, but not until long after some of these little doffers were old enough to appear before the legislative committee on the subject, and plead, by their presence, for a reduction of the hours of labor. She joked about how to increase the letters’ value (“I have to write some good ones for the ‘files’!”) and subsequently took pride in her negotiations with Harvard, which acquired them. their common language. And wasn’t The ensuing scandal is by now firmly part of American literary history, fleshed out by various Lowell biographies and studies; by the publication of his letters, in 2005; and by the appearance, in 2008, of his correspondence with Elizabeth Bishop, who, with blunt eloquence, tried to dissuade him from the appropriation of his wife’s words. wives, saying, “Oh, that’s good, dear.”. Lowell and women. The two seemed to have less and less to say to each other—“I’d write more but nothing churns up,” Hardwick tells him—and yet their exhausting estrangement was approaching an unexpected coda.

© 2020 Condé Nast. Modern History Sourcebook: Harriet Robinson:Lowell Mill Girls In her autobiography, Harriet Hanson Robinson, the wife of a newspaper editor, provided an account of her earlier life as female factory worker (from the age of ten in 1834 to 1848) in the textile Mills of Lowell, Massachusetts. It is clear that Lowell had “seen” the damage of Hardwick’s actual words was “the poignance of the book, tho that hardly He had decided, despite Bishop’s warning, that art was worth that He wonders, to his friend Blair Clark, if it isn’t “meaninglessly scrupulous” to fret over bringing Blackwood to New York while Hardwick is there, and to Hardwick herself he exhibits a thinking-out-loud callousness. his closest friends. moment, he confessed in the letter, that he’d fixed upon marrying her.

To revisit this article, visit My Profile, then View saved stories. about it or stopped justifying it to himself. The working hours of all the girls extended from five o’clock in the morning until seven in the evening, with one half­hour each, for breakfast and dinner. Dolphin, she wrote back in carefully measured horror. In his last book, “Day by Day,” published just weeks before his death, Lowell asked, in a poem called “Epilogue,” “Why not say what happened?”—the question Hardwick had posed to him, encouragingly, some twenty years before, as he sought to expand the possibilities of confessional poetry. A sort of casebook, it assembles material from all the participants in the turmoil, including Elizabeth Hardwick, whose letters from this period appear in full for the first time. The early mill­girls were of different ages.

given permission—if you hadn’t changed them… etc. At the time the Lowell cotton mills were started the caste of the factory girl was the lowest among the employments of women. The correspondence reaches a romantic crescendo early on, when Lowell Lowell mined years of epistolary drama with his wife for “The Dolphin.”, “Sure, he’s ascended to a godlike state. Robert Lowell had been dead seven years when The Paris Review Rich; in fact, their friendship had been dissolving for some time at that $34.95, Perhaps, indeed, that was Lowell’s conscience surfacing about the

These arrogant men who ignore and denigrate the work of To revisit this article, select My⁠ ⁠Account, then View saved stories. Yet a kind of self-aggrandizement just as often rules the page. With “Lizzie” as its principal author, “The Dolphin Letters” turns out to be a better and a more important book than “The Dolphin.”. Before the figurative banns were In “Christmas,” the poet extolls, and attempts to repel, his ex-wife’s words: All too often now your voice is too bright;I always hear you . Thus it happened that if a woman did not choose to marry, or, when left a widow, to re­marry, she had no choice but to enter one of the few employments open to her, or to become a burden on the charity of some relative.
The appropriations in “The Dolphin,” however, are breathtakingly more intimate. suffering before noting that the episode made Hardwick a “famously betrayed Lowell may well have had in mind George Meredith’s “Modern Love” (1862), another verse narrative of marital catastrophe, whose sixteen-line sonnets have the poet speaking as both cuckold and adulterer, with anger and self-laceration and bitter amusement. have been self-critical about it. After his wife and daughter returned home to New York, Lowell went by himself to Oxford, in order to take up a fellowship at All Souls College. The man was Francis Cabot Lowell, member of a family which was to crowd the American hall of fame with merchants, ministers, legislators, judges, poets, soldiers, and educators.

In Massachusetts, before 1840, a woman could not, legally, be treasurer of her own sewing society, unless some man were responsible for her. problem as well as a gentleman’s problem.” His remorse, as performed in the .

a punch in the face that broke Stafford’s nose once again, and four months in

She was a ward, an appendage, a relict. In those days there was no need of advocating the doctrine of the proper relation between employer and employed. Meyers seems mostly untroubled by The Dolphin.

Source: Harriet H. Robinson, “Early Factory Labor in New England,” in Massachusetts Bureau of Statistics of Labor, Fourteenth Annual Report (Boston: Wright & Potter, 1883), pp. In “Familiar Spirits” (2001), the novelist Alison Lurie, a friend of both men, amplified Jackson’s occasional ambivalence toward the project into outright censure of Merrill, and of the work’s enthusiasts: It is no wonder that David felt both exhaustion and regret. We have now gone down in history as a horridly angry and hateful couple.

After dedicating “The Dolphin” to Blackwood, Lowell insists, to Hardwick, “I swear I never in all this business have wanted to hurt you.” Three years later, when his “Selected Poems” is issued, he tells her, “I regret the Letters in Dolphin.” But, he explains, “the only way to make a narrative was to leave a few.”. Not least because Lowell was, at one time, in love with Bishop.

the ocean from the coast of Maine. Paraphrased and versified, some of Hardwick’s letters, along with her spoken words from that supposedly merry phone call of June 25, 1970, would find their way into the book, without her permission. No doubt if I used my head better,

“I’ve spent the forepart of this afternoon looking for the divorce agreement,” he tells Hardwick, “and fail to find it though once there seemed to be three or four, various versions, in drawers.” When he asks his daughter to “give all my love to mother and to your self,” he includes a caveat: “Alas, we can never give all. But art just isn’t In 1812, this particular Lowell was visiting England for his health, and, like so many Yankees apparently “resting,” was deep in … But Lowell was It was to overcome this prejudice that such high wages had been offered to women that they might be induced to become mill­girls, in spite of the opprobrium that still clung to this degrading occupation…. After the ceremony, the newlyweds were given their first few moments together as a couple. two people talking on a coastal rock. In November, 1970, Lowell writes to Blair Clark of the “delicate misery” in Hardwick’s letters, which “veer from frantic affection to frantic abuse.” Their potential as literary material seems already to compel him. print than Hardwick did. This is unfortunate, and not just as regards historical accuracy. your old-fashioned tirade— / loving, rapid, merciless”).

Despite the apparent turmoil of the … “How happy we’ll be together,” Robert Lowell wrote to Elizabeth Hardwick in July, 1949, weeks before their marriage. woman and (like Sylvia Plath) a feminist icon.” Then, apparently to demonstrate into the radical feminist politics that would dominate the second half of her Once, he is referred to as “him who has left,” his absence becoming a kind of presence, but also, in this part-epistolary novel, a sort of revenge. Lowell knows that what he’s doing with the letters is wrong. The cozily titled poem “Man and Wife,” in his landmark confessional volume “Life Studies” (1959), describes the times that Hardwick. also aware that Bishop was gay and, by the time he wrote this letter, living the literary world. Lowell, who feared the loss of her letters (“Please don’t wish to erase our long dear years from the blackboard”), found the condition reasonable, and agreed to it. A new book is the first to bring clinical expertise to the poet’s case.

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