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Additional Poems by Louise Bogan


The Frightened Man

In fear of the rich mouth
I kissed the thin,--
Even that was a trap
To snare me in.

Even she, so long
The frail, the scentless,
Is become strong,
And proves relentless.

O, forget her praise,
And how I sought her
Through a hazardous maze
By shafted water.

from Body of this Death: Poems (1923)


Betrothed

You have put your two hands upon me, and your mouth,
You have said my name as a prayer.
Here where trees are planted by the water
I have watched your eyes, cleansed from regret,
And your lips, closed over all that love cannot say,

My mother remembers the agony of her womb
And long years that seemed to promise more than this.
She says, "You do not love me,
You do not want me,
You will go away."

In the country whereto I go
I shall not see the face of my friend
Nor her hair the color of sunburnt grasses;
Together we shall not find
The land on whose hills bends the new moon
In air traversed of birds.

What have I thought of love?
I have said, "It is beauty and sorrow."
I have thought that it would bring me lost delights, and splendor
As a wind out of old time . . .

But there is only the evening here,
And the sound of willows
Now and again dipping their long oval leaves in the water.

from Body of this Death: Poems (1923)


Words for Departure

Nothing was remembered, nothing forgotten.
When we awoke, wagons were passing on the warm summer pavements,
The window-sills were wet from rain in the night,
Birds scattered and settled over chimneypots
As among grotesque trees.

Nothing was accepted, nothing looked beyond.
Slight-voiced bells separated hour from hour,
The afternoon sifted coolness
And people drew together in streets becoming deserted.
There was a moon, and light in a shop-front,
And dusk falling like precipitous water.

Hand clasped hand
Forehead still bowed to forehead--
Nothing was lost, nothing possessed
There was no gift nor denial.

2
I have remembered you.
You were not the town visited once,
Nor the road falling behind running feet.

You were as awkward as flesh
And lighter than frost or ashes.

You were the rind,
And the white-juiced apple,
The song, and the words waiting for music.

3
You have learned the beginning;
Go from mine to the other.

Be together; eat, dance, despair,
Sleep, be threatened, endure.
You will know the way of that.

But at the end, be insolent;
Be absurd--strike the thing short off;
Be mad--only do not let talk
Wear the bloom from silence.

And go away without fire or lantern
Let there be some uncertainty about your departure.

from Body of this Death: Poems (1923)


Knowledge

Now that I know
How passion warms little
Of flesh in the mould,
And treasure is brittle,--

I'll lie here and learn
How, over their ground
Trees make a long shadow
And a light sound.

from Body of this Death: Poems (1923)


The Alchemist

I burned my life, that I may find
A passion wholly of the mind,
Thought divorced from eye and bone
Ecstasy come to breath alone.
I broke my life, to seek relief
From the flawed light of love and grief.

With mounting beat the utter fire
Charred existence and desire.
It died low, ceased its sudden thresh.
I had found unmysterious flesh--
Not the mind's avid substance--still
Passionate beyond the will.

from Body of this Death: Poems (1923)


Chanson un Peu Na´ve

What body can be ploughed,
Sown, and broken yearly?
But she would not die, she vowed,
But she has, nearly.
        Sing, heart sing;
        Call and carol clearly.

And, since she could not die,
Care would be a feather,
A film over the eye
Of two that lie together.
        Fly, song, fly,
        Break your little tether.

So from strength concealed
She makes her pretty boast:
Plain is a furrow healed
And she may love you most.
        Cry, song, cry,
        And hear your crying lost.

from Body of this Death: Poems (1923)


Sonnet

Since you would claim the sources of my thought
Recall the meshes whence it sprang unlimed,
The reedy traps which other hands have times
To close upon it. Conjure up the hot
Blaze that it cleared so cleanly, or the snow
Devised to strike it down. It will be free.
Whatever nets draw in to prison me
At length your eyes must turn to watch it go.

My mouth, perhaps, may learn one thing too well,
My body hear no echo save its own,
Yet will the desperate mind , maddened and proud,
Seek out the storm, escape the bitter spell
That we obey, strain to the wind, be thrown
Straight to its freedom in the thunderous cloud

from Body of this Death: Poems (1923)


The Crossed Apple

I've come to give you fruit from out my orchard, 
Of wide report.
I have trees there that bear me many apples.
Of every sort:

Clear, streaked; red and russet; green and golden;
Sour and sweet.
This apple's from a tree yet unbeholden,
Where two kinds meet,

So that this side is red without a dapple,
And this side's hue
Is clear and snowy. It's a lovely apple.
It is for you.

Within are five black pips as big as peas,
As you will find,
Potent to breed you five great apple trees
Of varying kind:

To breed you wood for fire, leaves for shade,
Apples for sauce.
Oh, this is a good apple for a maid,
It is a cross,

Fine on the finer, so the flesh is tight,
And grained like silk.
Sweet Burning gave the red side, and the white
Is Meadow Milk.

Eat it, and you will taste more than the fruit:
The blossom, too,
The sun, the air, the darkness at the root,
The rain, the dew,

The earth we came to, and the time we flee,
The fire and the breast.
I claim the white part, maiden, that's for me.
You take the rest.

from Dark Summer (1929). Online Source


Baroque Comment

    From loud sound and still chance;
From mindless earth, wet with a dead million leaves;
From the forest, the empty desert, the tearing beasts,
The kelp-disordered beaches;
Coincident with the lie, anger, lust, oppression, and death in many forms;

Ornamental structures, continents apart, separated by seas;

Fitted marble, swung bells; fruit in garlands as well as on the branch;
The flower at last in bronze, stretched backward, or curled within;
Stone in various shapes: beyond the pyramid, the contrived arch and
buttress;
The named constellations;
Crown and vesture; palm and laurel chosen as noble and enduring;
Speech proud in sound; death considered sacrifice;
Mask, weapon, urn; the ordered strings;
Fountains, foreheads under weather-bleached hair;
The wreath, the oar, the tool,
The prow;
The turned eyes and the opened mouth of love.

from Sleeping Fury (1937).


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