Books: Trying to Say What Happened

DAY BY DAY by Robert Lowell; Farrar, Straus & Giroux; 138 pages; $8.95

On first reading, this new chapter in what Poet Robert Lowell has called "my verse autobiography" seems anticlimactic, a retelling of what took place after the curtain dropped. For Lizzie and Harriet and The Dolphin, both published in 1973, took Lowell through the termination of his second marriage and the beginning of his third. The poetry in those two paired volumes was only infrequently up to Lowell's best, but the sustained drama of the situation—and the poet's vivid evocations of both...

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