Robert Lowell’s "The Old Flame" on Audio

I had forgotten how good Lowell is; I haven’t read any of his work since my senior year of college. By way of biblioklept I discovered an mp3 rendition of his poem, “Old Flame,” which is more enjoyable to hear and read at the same time, so I converted the mp3 into a movie file and uploaded it to youtube. I’ve also pasted the poem below.

The Old Flame
My old flame, my wife!
Remember our lists of birds?
One morning last summer, I drove
by our house in Maine. It was still
on top of its hill –
Now a red ear of Indian maize
was splashed on the door.
Old Glory with thirteen stripes
hung on a pole. The clapboard
was old-red schoolhouse red.
Inside, a new landlord,
a new wife, a new broom!
Atlantic seaboard antique shop
pewter and plunder
shone in each room.
A new frontier!
No running next door
now to phone the sheriff
for his taxi to Bath
and the State Liquor Store!
No one saw your ghostly
imaginary lover
stare through the window
and tighten
the scarf at his throat.
Health to the new people,
health to their flag, to their old
restored house on the hill!
Everything had been swept bare,
furnished, garnished and aired.
Everything’s changed for the best –
how quivering and fierce we were,
there snowbound together,
simmering like wasps
in our tent of books!
Poor ghost, old love, speak
with your old voice
of flaming insight
that kept us awake all night.
In one bed and apart,
we heard the plow
groaning up hill –
a red light, then a blue,
as it tossed off the snow
to the side of the road.
Robert Lowell
This entry was posted in Art, Literature, Love, Poetry, Video.

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