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The Dolphin

Two Versions, 1972-1973

Robert Lowell; Edited by Saskia Hamilton

Farrar, Straus and Giroux

The Dolphin Download image

ISBN10: 0374538271
ISBN13: 9780374538279

Trade Paperback

224 Pages



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Winner of the Poetry Foundation's Pegasus Award for Poetry Criticism

I have sat and listened to too many

words of the collaborating muse,
and plotted perhaps too freely with my life,
not avoiding injury to others,
not avoiding injury to myself—
to ask compassion . . . this book, half fiction,
an eelnet made by man for the eel fighting
my eyes have seen what my hand did.

Winner of the 1973 Pulitzer Prize in Poetry, Robert Lowell’s The Dolphin was controversial from the beginning: many of the poems include letters from Robert Lowell’s wife, the celebrated writer and critic Elizabeth Hardwick, wrote to him after he left her for the English socialite and writer Caroline Blackwood. He was warned by many, among them Elizabeth Bishop, that “art just isn’t worth that much.”

Nevertheless, these poems are a powerful document of an impulsive love, and a moving record of Lowell’s change from one life and marriage in America to a new life on new terms with a new family in England, rendered with the stunning technical power and control for which he was so celebrated.

This new edition, which follows the 1973 edition, includes scans of the pages of Lowell’s original manuscript, giving us a look into the brilliant and complicated mind of one of our most beloved and distinguished poets.


Praise for The Dolphin

"Saskia Hamilton’s deft editing and expertise are apparent . . . Two Versions revisits the poem ['The Dolphin'] at length, and includes scans of the original manuscript, giving readers a new understanding of the Pulitzer Prize winning piece."The Poetry Foundation's citation for the Pegasus Award for Poetry Criticism

Reviews from Goodreads

About the author

Robert Lowell; Edited by Saskia Hamilton

Robert Lowell (1917–1977) was the renowned and controversial author of many books of poetry, including Day by Day (FSG, 1977), For the Union Dead (FSG, 1964), and Life Studies (FSG, 1959).

Saskia Hamilton is the author of several books of poetry, including Corridor, named one of the best poetry books of 2014 by The New Yorker and The New York Times Book Review. She is the editor of The Letters of Robert Lowell and coeditor of Words in Air: The Complete Correspondence Between Elizabeth Bishop and Robert Lowell. She teaches at Barnard College.

Copyright Phil MacMullan

Robert Lowell

Saskia Hamilton

Author Biography at the Poetry Foundation

Author Biography on Britannica