A Fixed Idea
by Amy Lowell
Crying_bird2.jpeg.jpg
What torture lurks within a single thought
When grown too constant; and however kind,
However welcome still, the weary mind
Aches with its presence. Dull remembrance taught
Remembers on unceasingly; unsought
The old delight is with us but to find
That all recurring joy is pain refined,
Become a habit, and we struggle, caught.
You lie upon my heart as on a nest,
Folded in peace, for you can never know
How crushed I am with having you at rest
Heavy on my life. I love you so
You bind my freedom from its rightful quest.
In mercy lift your drooping wings and go.


Paraphrase:
What bad things happen when one thinks about a single thing for too long;
even if it is a good thought, it becomes tedious and painful.
These old thoughts keep coming back.
things that used to make one happy are remembered and instead bring unhappiness
and get sucked into a cycle of despair.
You brought such warmth and were so important to me,
so you can never know how much I miss you.
Because I love you, i'm trapped: missing you,
but now I'm ready to move on.

Notes:
  • the title gives a sense of what the poem is going to talk about, because in the poem, the person can't get rid of the thoughts that are going through her head. She is fixed on one idea.
  • the allusion to a bird is made several times in such phrases such as "you lie upon my heart as on a nest," and, "your drooping wings."
  • the rhyme scheme of the poem is ABBACDDCEFEFEF
  • there are 10 syllables in each line
  • it is written in iambic pentameter
  • it appears to be an Petrarchan sonnet due to the 14 lines, rhyming scheme, the appearance of a turn, and about 10 syllables in each line.
  • Lowell was known to write poems and remove all the spaces between stanzas, she called this polyphonic prose, we believe A Fixed Idea is an example of this
  • imagery is used throughout the poem with the bird
  • there are metaphors
  • the title A Fixed Idea shows that she is unable to keep her mind off of something, which we interpret from the poem to be a person
  • never uses the same word twice to explain a thought, suggests complexities and that it is a hard idea to communicate
  • the poem has a sad and depressing tone
  • the tone compliments the feeling of the ideas that she is trying to communicate
  • it comes across as an intimate poem, after all we believe she is writing about someone that she loved
  • the poem also has a nice, steady flow to it
  • it is possible to see and understand this poem on many different levels

amylowell.jpgAuthor: Amy Lowell
  • born in 1874 died in 1925
  • won the Pulitzer Prize for poetry in 1926
  • from Massachusetts
  • didn't go to college; wasn't proper
  • was believed to be a lesbian
  • first published works in 1910 in the Atlantic Monthly
  • first collection of poetry: A Dome of Many Coloured Glass; published in 1912
  • liked to write in sonnets, but also wrote a lot in free verse
  • came up with and used polyphonic prose
  • poems were brought back in the 1970s when the suffrage and equal rights movements were happening

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Individual Work:
Amalia
Sarah
Jason

Ms. Linder