Your Last Letter Helped

In Letters and Poems on May 9, 2009 at 2:23 pm

Following the article poet David Morley wrote for Post Letters, we begin our quest to archive Letters and Poems. Here, Robert Lowell uses a technique he developed over many years – of “lifting” phrases from letters sent directly to him for his poems. You can read more about the making of this poem in Colm Toibin’s recent and, as ever, brilliant (in the true meaning) article for the London Review of Books.

For Elizabeth Bishop 3. Letter with Poems for Letter with Poems

“You are right to worry, only please DON’T,
though I’m pretty worried myself. I’ve somehow got
into the worst situation I’ve ever
had to cope with. I can’t see the way out.
Cal, have you ever gone through caves?
I did in Mexico, and hated them.
I haven’t done the famous one near here…
Finally after hours of stumbling along,
you see daylight ahead, a faint blue glimmer;
air never looked so beautiful before.
That is what I feel I’m waiting for:
a faintest glimmer I am going to get out
somehow alive from this. Your last letter helped,
like being mailed a lantern or a spiked stick.


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