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"Poetry Experienced": Lucy Larcom's Poetic Dwelling in A New England Girlhood

"Poetry Experienced": Lucy Larcom's Poetic Dwelling in A New England Girlhood Indiana University In the preface to her autobiography A New England Girlhood: Outlined from Memory (1889), Lucy Larcom writes that her autobiography may have been written already in her verses: "In them, I have found the most natural and free expression of myself. They have seemed to set my life to music for me, a life that has always had to be occupied with many things besides writing" (8). Larcom's verses thus operate on a dual level. They offer an expansive forum in which to express her "self," and they add an element of music, of beauty and artfulness, to a life often occupied with the quotidian. For the most part, Larcom critics have ended their discussions of her poetry and autobiography at this level, rightly acknowledging her as an able yet humble versifier of the nineteenth century. Yet Larcom's use of poetry in her autobiography represents something more interesting than this familiar assessment suggests. If in writing her verses she found "the most free expression" of her "self," why should she write an autobiography? She continues in the preface, "My `must-have' was poetry. From the first, life meant that to me. . . . [P]oetry is . http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Legacy University of Nebraska Press

"Poetry Experienced": Lucy Larcom's Poetic Dwelling in A New England Girlhood

Legacy , Volume 18 (2) – Jan 10, 2001

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Publisher
University of Nebraska Press
Copyright
Copyright © 2002 The University of Nebraska.
ISSN
1534-0643
Publisher site
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Abstract

Indiana University In the preface to her autobiography A New England Girlhood: Outlined from Memory (1889), Lucy Larcom writes that her autobiography may have been written already in her verses: "In them, I have found the most natural and free expression of myself. They have seemed to set my life to music for me, a life that has always had to be occupied with many things besides writing" (8). Larcom's verses thus operate on a dual level. They offer an expansive forum in which to express her "self," and they add an element of music, of beauty and artfulness, to a life often occupied with the quotidian. For the most part, Larcom critics have ended their discussions of her poetry and autobiography at this level, rightly acknowledging her as an able yet humble versifier of the nineteenth century. Yet Larcom's use of poetry in her autobiography represents something more interesting than this familiar assessment suggests. If in writing her verses she found "the most free expression" of her "self," why should she write an autobiography? She continues in the preface, "My `must-have' was poetry. From the first, life meant that to me. . . . [P]oetry is .

Journal

LegacyUniversity of Nebraska Press

Published: Jan 10, 2001

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