This article reads Robert Lowell’s poetry in terms of its engagement with architecture. It argues that at crucial moments in American history, and in Lowell’s life, the architectural environment of the various places he called home (including Boston, Maine, Ohio, New York, and Kent, England) offered a perspective, a language, and a set of forms through which to negotiate personal, historical, and cultural change. This is a process that he achieved, in part, with reference to the work of other poets including Elizabeth Bishop, Hart Crane, and William Carlos Williams. By moving beyond a general reading of place, and towards a specific and granular reading of architectural figuration, I show that Lowell is able to contemplate and eventually to restructure the relationship between tradition and innovation—a process that is vital to his developing poetics.

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