Poem of Quotes - Poetry, Quotations, and Relationships
Home > Poets > 19th Century > Amy Lowell > Penumbra by Amy Lowell Analysis & Poem

Penumbra by Amy Lowell

Analysis

In this poem, the poet speaks about her eventual death and what will be there to remind and protect her lover as she is gone. In lines 37-39, Lowell mentions her writing about her love within her other poetry. Like most of her writings, she does not bother to rhyme, but instead relies on her quality rhythm making skills and alternating meters to provide structure and give emotion to the reader.

Death is something we all think about and eventually face. Sometimes, we see it as something peaceful. While other times, we look at it with unknowing eyes and a scared heart. We don't know exactly what to expect. However, we sometimes have faith that something will happen or something will be there. However, in "Penumbra", Lowell looks at what her death will be like for other people, especially for her loved ones.

Poem

Penumbra
By 

As I sit here in the quiet Summer night,
Suddenly, from the distant road, there comes
The grind and rush of an electric car.
And, from still farther off,
An engine puffs sharply,
Followed by the drawn-out shunting scrape of a freight train.
These are the sounds that men make
In the long business of living.
They will always make such sounds,
Years after I am dead and cannot hear them.

Sitting here in the Summer night,
I think of my death.
What will it be like for you then?
You will see my chair
With its bright chintz covering
Standing in the afternoon sunshine,
As now.
You will see my narrow table
At which I have written so many hours.
My dogs will push their noses into your hand,
And ask– ask–
Clinging to you with puzzled eyes.

The old house will still be here,
The old house which has known me since the beginning.
The walls which have watched me while I played:
Soldiers, marbles, paper-dolls,
Which have protected me and my books.

The front-door will gaze down among the old trees
Where, as a child, I hunted ghosts and Indians;
It will look out on the wide gravel sweep
here I rolled my hoop,
And at the rhododendron bushes
Where I caught black-spotted butterflies.

The old house will guard you,
As I have done.
Its walls and rooms will hold you,
And I shall whisper my thoughts and fancies
As always,
From the pages of my book.

You will sit here, some quiet Summer night,
Listening to the puffing trains,
But you will not be lonely,
For these things are a part of me.
And my love will go on speaking to you
Through the chairs, and the tables, and the pictures,
As it does now through my voice,
And the quick, necessary touch of my hand.

Next: Petals