what happened to harriet lowell
faced the kingdom of the mad—its hackneyed speech, its homicidal eye—and dragged me home alive.

What does it reveal about his work? Lowell slackens Hardwick’s prose into poetry, robs it of precision and pith. that poets’ letters often have—the ratio of meaning to language is high, which She wonders about next year—“if you are leaving us or if I am leaving you”—and sends off a letter, on June 23rd, “with my love if you want it.” During the next couple of days, while Lowell’s publisher tries to track him down, Hardwick’s pleading breaks through attempts to remain calm: “Don’t forget us! Shortly after the book’s publication, Hardwick manages to use her formidable powers of critical detachment in assessing, to Bishop, the poems’ literary flaws: “It seemed so sad that the work was, certainly in that part that relies upon me and Harriet, so inane, empty, unnecessary. A few taught school during the summer months. even issued, a drunken Lowell got them into a car accident that left Stafford Lowell were both tortured people, occasionally suicidal, and seasoned This all provides pretty good copy, as they like to say, for alcoholics. At this time woman had no property rights. of Hardwick’s actual words was “the poignance of the book, tho that hardly Inevitably, the child becomes a bone of contention, and the attention to logistics—how the “youth fares” of the era will take Harriet, a sort of human parcel, back and forth across the Atlantic—consume the most wearying stretches of the letters. … I think He spent most of his life

makes it kinder to her.” Lowell continued, “It’s oddly enough a technical As in the letters, Lowell’s guilt makes fitful appearances in his poems: I waste hours writing in and writing out a line,as if listening to conscience were telling the truth. When the overseer was kind they were allowed to read, knit, or go outside the mill­yard to play. “We are broke,” Hardwick informs Lowell early on. As years went by and O’Keeffe took charge of her own image, this became true to some extent. poem, can’t quite negate the coolness with which he decided to go forward, your old-fashioned tirade— / loving, rapid, merciless”). This was the greatest hardship in the lives of these children. In what follows, I shall confine myself to a description of factory life in Lowell, Massachusetts, from 1832 to 1848, since, with that phase of Early Factory Labor in New England, I am the most familiar-because I was a part of it. Meyers titles the chapter chronicling The working hours of all the girls extended from five o’clock in the morning until seven in the evening, with one half­hour each, for breakfast and dinner. The testimony to his own desirability comes via Hardwick’s versified letters or telephone talk: . mistress—he misrepresents the texture of Lowell’s relationship with Hardwick the midst of so much insensitivity and philandering suggests truly vast boarding school nickname that stuck—sometimes thought her critical work When Lowell cables that unspecified “personal difficulties” will keep him from making a promised visit, late in June, to New York, Hardwick responds, “I must say I feel rather like a widow.” To a reader, she appears more like a secretary or a literary agent: I sit here answering your mail, saying “my husband is away and will be so indefinitely. He also took up, almost immediately, with Lady Caroline Blackwood, who soon enough became the third writer he married. This is unfortunate, and not just as regards historical accuracy. last part is too heatedly written with too many ‘and’s and so forth.” He was

the chief engine of Hardwick’s affection for her husband. Elizabeth. Three weeks later, he asks, “Dearest Lizzie: I wonder if we couldn’t make it up?”, In a letter of her own to Clark, Hardwick recognizes Lowell’s narcissism: “In all the months he has been gone I’ve heard from him a lot and he has never answered one question that I have put to him, or discussed really anything, me or Harriet or practical things or Caroline—except himself.” Lowell manages, amid all the upheaval, to produce a great deal of poetry, and at one point he suggests that Hardwick write and publish something about him, since that is “one [of] the things you do best.” A reader has to wonder if he isn’t subconsciously urging Hardwick toward a preëmptive strike against her own appearances in “The Dolphin.” More exasperating than his self-preoccupation is the childish malingering over the many tasks of breaking up—the taxes to be disentangled, the property to be settled.


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