Amy Lowell is considered one of the leading figures of the Imagist movement in poetry. The Poetry Foundation describes Imagism as “An early 20th-century poetic movement that relied on the resonance of concrete images drawn in precise, colloquial language rather than traditional poetic diction and meter.”
I recently read Amy Lowell’s poem, “Aliens.” The title intrigued me, and I found it is a bittersweet, even ironic, reference to children. The poem is brief—only five lines. In that small space, Lowell perfectly captures the paradox of parenting, a venture as full of enjoyment as of costly sacrifice.
The key image she uses to convey this is “the water-drops which slowly wear the rocks to powder.” This shows the power of imagist poetry—with one picture, she is able to convey so much about the experience of parenting. People who have been parents will be able to interact with the imagery more richly. But because the image itself is universal in human experience, it allows anyone a window into how parenting feels from the inside.
As a Christian, I further frame “Aliens” in the context of Christ’s death and resurrection. His death gives life to anyone who spiritually joins to Him. Paul, the apostle, said, “Death works in us but life in you”; Christians can mystically participate in the death of Christ in such a way that spiritual life is imparted to others (2 Corinthians 4:12). Parenting is a way to know Christ in His death and to release spiritual life to our children.