Robert Lowell - Biography and Works

Robert Lowell was a leading American poet. Lowell often is considered a 'confessional' poet because he used material from his private life to generate an image of modern culture. His poetry dramatizes the pain and tenderness of personal relationships, and his belief that society has been distorted by its overemphasis on worldly things.

Robert Lowell (1917-1977)

Lowell received the 1947 Pulitzer Prize for poetry for Lord Weary’s Catle (1946) and the 1974 Pulitzer Prize for poetry for the Dolphin (1973). Lowell’s early poems dealt with the failures and strengths of religious and historical tradition. They were brilliant, complex and very formal. The Mills of the Kavanaughs (1951) gave more personal expression to his themes by using the dramatic monologue. He adopted an offhand and autobiographical style in such works as Life Studies (1959), For the Union Dead (1964), and Day by Day (1977). The collection History (1973) contains the poet’s reflections on world events. Lowell was also an award –winning translator and wrote three plays about early United States history. These plays were published under the title The Old Glory (1965).

His Collected Prose published in 1987, after his death. Lowell’s first volume of poems, Land of Unlikeness reflected the disturbing effects of World War II. Life Studies (1959) revealed Lowell's inner troubles and marked him as an influential figure in the emergence of confessional poetry in the 1950s. "Confessional" poetry was both a genre and poetic movement in the 1950s. Lowell wrote poems that confessed his inner poverty, representing the loss of spirituality and the rise of depression and mental breakdown of many Americans of his age. The ‘confessional’ poets used modernist techniques to explore their won psychology and their lives. Lowell saw that the American was not only losing the sense of national glory but also social, moral, religious and spiritual values and the ideals that give meaning and purpose of human life. In short, he saw the Americans in a terrible spiritual crisis.

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Shrestha, Roma. "Robert Lowell - Biography and Works." BachelorandMaster, 6 Apr. 2018,