A Fixed Idea
by Amy Lowell

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.

The title really says it all in the poem, A Fixed Idea by Amy Lowell. The poem talks about remembering, and how sometimes evening remembering good things can cause pain, until one is ready to move on.The speaker seems to be remembering something, although it is not specifically clarified what, we can only guess, that once made her happy, but now as she thinks about it, brings only pain. Finally, in the last line she accepts the loss or pain that is troubling her and finds peace.

The rhyme scheme used in A Fixed Idea is ABBAABBACDCDCD and the meter is in iambic pentameter. It also appears that A Fixed Idea is modeled after a Patriarchen sonnet due to the fourteen lines, rhyme scheme, and the presence of a turn at the end. The first five lines talk about the actual act of remembering while the rest of the poem talks about how remembering has affected the speaker. The use of imagery is frequent in A Fixed Idea relating to a bird. The speaker feels a weight on herself from the pain she's experiencing, yet she cannot do anything about it as is seen when she says,

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. (lines 9-12)

Another reference to a bird is in the last line, where the speaker says, "In mercy life your drooping wings and go." (line 14) This appears to me to show that she's accepted the pain, yet is ready for it to leave, and stop crushing her life.

A Fixed Idea has a sad tone about it, as well as sad context, because I read it as the speaker lamenting about a loved one that passed on, and she still has a hard time coping with it. However, in the last line the tone implies hope. Hope that the speaker will make it through and stop remembering her pain. The poem appears almost as an intimate informal prayer or wish to the object that the poem is about, asking to allow them to have peace with what has happened. The syntax is smooth and simple just as how pain is sometimes smooth and simple. When you're in pain, one wishes to block out everything including the pain, and when one blocks everything out, it does not get much more simple than that.

It is possible, that the Lowell wrote this poem due to circumstances in her own life, relating to loss, or pain in memories.