Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, AQUATINT FRAMED IN GOLD, by AMY LOWELL



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AQUATINT FRAMED IN GOLD, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Six flights up in an out-of-date apartment house
Last Line: Ironically recording an hour of no importance.
Subject(s): Old Age; Portraits


Six flights up in an out-of-date apartment house
Where all the door-jambs and wainscots are of black walnut
And the last tenant died at the ripe age of eighty.
Tick-tock, the grandfather's clock,
Crowded into a corner against the black walnut wainscot.

Surrounded by the house-gods of her family for three generations:
Teak-wood cabinets, rice-paper picture-books, slim, comfortless chairs of
spotted bamboo.
Too many house-gods for the space allotted them, exuding an old and corroding
beauty, a beauty faded and smelling of the past.
Tick-tock, the grandfather's clock,
Accurately telling the time, but forgetting whether it is today or yesterday.

Sleeping every night in a walnut bedstead
With a headboard like the end of a family pew;
Waking every morning to the photographs of dead relations,
Dead relations sifted all over the house,
Accumulated in drifts like dust or snow.
Tick-tock, the grandfather's clock,
Indifferently keeping up an old tradition.
Unconcernedly registering the anniversaries of illnesses and deaths,
But omitting the births, they were so long ago.

The lady is neither young nor old,
She walks like a waxwork among her crumbling possessions.
She is automatic and ageless like the clock,
And she, too, is of a bygone pattern.
She sits at her frugal dinner,
Careful of its ancient etiquette,
Opposite the portrait of a great-aunt
Done by a forgotten painter.
The portrait lived once, it would seem,
To judge by the coquetry of its attire,
But the lady has always been a waxwork,
Of no age in particular,
But of an unquestioned ancestry.
Tick-tock, the grandfather's clock,
Ironically recording an hour of no importance.





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