Robert Lowell is a crucial poet having his own voice which generally pinpoints itself from one poem to the other in a clear way. As he already clarifies the writing process in his essay, the common stimuli urging him to write is the things he is obsessed with like the idea of getting older (especially age 40), the modern but confined life of the individual (prisons, jails, pens), that confinement bringing loneliness, lack of familiar places like a sweet home within itself and lastly the colors which have quite an important but commonly negative effect on the mood (like blue in general). The resemblance between human beings and animals (generally mammals) is recognizable; he gives plenty of examples from seal to bird. In terms of the form, he writes in free verse and avoiding traditional poetry he does not finish the sentence in one verse and start with a bold letter at the head of the next one. He generally shifts between different vantages and it turns out to be the “I” in the end like the crucial place of being an individual in modernity. The words he uses do not differ much from one poem to the other, the emphasis is generally age, color, animals, children; however, there is a quite different style of him when it comes to the origins of the words he uses. They emerge from Persian, Arabic and sometimes French without any limitation.
Lowell is very creative even if he is stuck in the age 40’s because he never tells something in a familiar way, sometimes talking about forties, sometimes you should really count the time and play with the numbers like three months or thirteen weeks as in Home after Three Months, or as he talks about his age referring it as the half of his weight which is two hundred pounds in Waking in the Blue. While talking about his age he also works on the ideology of the man in forties which is assisted by words or chunks such as “old-fashioned tirade”, “old-timers”, “cannot loiter- -like a bear”. Through the usage of these words, he shows how old people stand at the centre of changes, even if they used to be the cool or the fit one at their own time, which does not work anymore. Even if there is a possibility to have more spare time, the habits of them does not let them free as to act like a child; relaxed and free. These phrases can be traced in all his four poems expected to be analyzed.
Lowell tries to draw attention to the governmental concepts like hospitals, jails, pens and how they are imposed on the individuals as to cure or purify(punish better we say) them after altering their peaceful soul with the impact of war, depressive monotonous modern life and stressful soul demanding working life in the industrial circle. The hero of the poem cannot wake up from the lethargy of the life till he gets shock either by being put in a hospital for “mentally ill” whose condition would actually add more illness to the patient than healing him with its Victorian plumbed urinous tub or by being thrown into jail in which there are some recovery sessions or the fears in the minds of the dwellers like an electric chair. Even if the person can get out of the pen he is put in by generally the state or its institutions, he no longer feels the same. Some call him as cured no matter how “stale”, “frizzled” and “small” he feels as it exemplified in Man and Wife.
The concept; color has a significant place in Lowell’s poetry like it already has an important place in our daily life. When somebody gets ill, the change in his natural color of skin generally inevitable, or when the season transfers the first thing we can get the clue of is the color itself. The color is the clearest way of noticing the change in the surrounding or within you. The age, the illness, the season can be understood by the help of it and in an abstract way, it is also accepted as one of the features of the mood like we associate blue with depression and brown with (khaki tenements) old and casualness. The writer makes the most of it all through his verses leaving his hue on the narration.
There is a highly noticeable link between human and animals or he aims at showing such. What he tries to focus on is the unconscious way animals live their life under all different conditions but with the same “logic” and that is the same with modern people, the people who is under the pressure of others’ decisions over him like the pen he is put in the way an animal is placed inside a fence. They do not have any freedom even the razors they own is taken from them and locked. No freedom in life, no freedom in mind; they cannot even decide to die no matter how much they want to end their own life. The writer seems to be inspired by the ideology of Post-structuralists like Michel Foucault and his “panoptic state”, “modern prisons like school, hospital, courts” under the protection of repressive government, people are no more free they are rather inside the bars of modernity.
When it comes to the common forms he uses in his poetry, the free verse as a concept leads the process. He does not want to “confine” himself in the creation process of the sentences which would comprise the poem. As a freedom-seeker which would also be understood from his content, he even does not try to complete the meaning in a verse. The fragmentation of the individual could be symbolized in that way. He is also flexible about punctuation easing his process of breaking the verse in half and put what remains in the following one.
In terms of the point of view, there is always a movement between the vantage points and that is generally from him/her to us then to I in the end. Even if that style seems like a certain style that deepens and hardens the meaning in a way it also enables him to give different perspectives of things in a rapid way enlarging the audience he aims at. Here it is necessary to mention the discourse the person carries with him which would adapt the society, the home or the personal life in different ways. All of his poems are easy to analyze thanks to the post-structuralism/ post-modernism and the terms they have formed which can be a hint showing how Lowell is also affected by those theories or analytic approaches. The focus in his poetry emerges at the point he starts to use “I” like placing himself in the crowd, he uses his own voice with his own alter ego there.
The choice of the words he uses in his works does not differ in a great deal that might be due to his having contents quite close one to the other such as age, depression and limited life circle. These are the main topics he uses in poetry; however, he is very broad-minded in terms of the origins of the words, itself. He is not a nationalist writer borrowing words from all western (French) and also eastern (Persian, Arabic) origin. In that way, he can symbolize the global closeness of the societies and by the help of that style he can also go beyond the borders of America turning his poems into universal phenomena.