Robert Lowell Collected Poems

Fallen Nests: An Exploration of Personal and Political Realities in Fall 1961

Robert Lowell's Fall 1961 crystallizes in words the sense of nuclear paranoia that lurked in both private and public spheres of the United States during the Cold War. From a dark, personal perspective the poem takes an unsettling look into the unease of the individual during this time. Despite its egocentric perspective, however, Lowell allows the poem to make vague allusions to the greater political situation surrounding the nuclear threat. Through these allusions he frames the individual experience of the poem's speaker in a greater political context. Like the hazy background of a watercolor painting, this backdrop is indistinct compared to the crisp individual presented in the foreground of his work, but nonetheless its presence contributes to the lurking weight of nuclear paranoia that gives the poem its ambience of ominousness and uncertainty.

The movement of the poem is fairly arrhythmic, with sporadic and unpredictable rhyming. The effect is a deliberate awkwardness in its sound and the creation of a feeling of anticipation as the reader waits for the each possible rhyme to deliver. In this way the form of the poem captures the unease of the individual and society as a whole during its time setting and plays on the...

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