Summer 2012 • Vol. XXXIV No. 3 NonfictionJuly 1, 2012 |

Lowell’s Politics: Ambivalence and Commitment

I No poet today speaks on political issues with the authoritative voice and the decisive influence of Robert Lowell. Taking advantage of his prestigious name, his powers of expression, and his charismatic persona, he took brave political stands in wartime and during the Cold War. He was a conscientious objector in World War II and a persuasive opponent of the war in Vietnam; he refused to attend President Lyndon Johnson's Festival of the Arts, took part in the historic march on the Pentagon (vividly portrayed in Norman Mailer's Armies of the Night), publicly protested during the Democratic convention in Chicago, and traveled with Senator Eugene McCarthy during his presidential campaign. Sophisticated and urbane, learned and allusive, Lowell enhanced his reputation as a poet with a passionate expression of his political beliefs and moral values. He belonged to a cohesive and influential group centered around the New York Review of Books, which he'd helped to found and which alway

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Jeffrey Meyers, Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, has had thirty-three books translated into fourteen languages and seven alphabets and published on six continents. He has recently published Robert Lowell in Love and The Mystery of the Real: Correspondence with Alex Colville in 2016, and Resurrections: Authors, Heroes—and a Spy in 2018.

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