Epilogue by Robert Lowell d. 1977
Robert Lowell was one of the Boston Lowells, noted in the John Collins Bossidy doggerel, Boston Toast:
- And this is good old Boston,
The home of the bean and the cod,
Where the Lowells talk only to the Cabots,
And the Cabots talk only to God.
This fact of Lowell’s life made fame natural for him, but his achievement as a poet was genuine. In this poem he has hold of a troublesome fact for the artist who wants to create something new. Old forms fail the poet who hears a language of ordinary speech and of raw experience and tries to get that into the poem. For the poet who wants to create a fact and not report a fact, language and tradition may not be sufficient. The disappointment for Lowell–near the end of this poem–is that we human beings are “poor passing facts”. Art may last as we pass away.