Louise Bogan

L
Louise Bogan
The Alchemist
I burned my life, that I might 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.
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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,
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Fifteenth Farewell
I
You may have all things from me, save my breath,
The slight life in my throat will not give pause
For your love, nor your loss, nor any cause.
Shall I be made a panderer to death,
Dig the green ground for darkness underneath,
Let the dust serve me, covering all that was
With all that will be? Better, from time’s claws,
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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.
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A Letter
I came here, being stricken, stumbling out
At last from streets; the sun, decreasing, took me
For days, the time being the last of autumn,
The thickets not yet stark, but quivering
With tiny colors, like some brush strokes in
The manner of the pointillists; small yellows
Dart shaped, little reds in different pattern,
Clicks and notches of color on threaded bushes,
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My Voice Not Being Proud
My voice, not being proud
Like a strong woman’s, that cries
Imperiously aloud
That death disarm her, lull her—
Screams for no mourning color
Laid menacingly, like fire,
Over my long desire.
It will end, and leave no print.
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Song
Love me because I am lost;
Love me that I am undone.
That is brave,—no man has wished it,
Not one.

Be strong, to look on my heart
As others look on my face.
Love me,—I tell you that it is a ravaged
Terrible place.
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Sonnet
Since you would claim the sources of my thought
Recall the meshes whence it sprang unlimed,
The reedy traps which other hands have timed
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.
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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,
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Knowledge
Now that I know
That passion warms little
Of flesh in the mold,
And treasure is brittle,

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


August 1922
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Epitaph for a Romantic Woman
She has attained the permanence
She dreamed of, where old stones lie sunning.
Untended stalks blow over her
Even and swift, like young men running.

Always in the heart she loved
Others had lived,—she heard their laughter.
She lies where none has lain before,
Where certainly none will follow after.
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Leave-Taking
I do not know where either of us can turn
Just at first, waking from the sleep of each other.
I do not know how we can bear
The river struck by the gold plummet of the moon,
Or many trees shaken together in the darkness.
We shall wish not to be alone
And that love were not dispersed and set free—
Though you defeat me,
And I be heavy upon you.

But like earth heaped over the heart
Is love grown perfect.
Like a shell over the beat of life
Is love perfect to the last.
So let it be the same
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Medusa
I had come to the house, in a cave of trees,
Facing a sheer sky.
Everything moved,—a bell hung ready to strike,
Sun and reflection wheeled by.

When the bare eyes were before me
And the hissing hair,
Held up at a window, seen through a door.
The stiff bald eyes, the serpents on the forehead
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To a Dead Lover
The dark is thrown
Back from the brightness, like hair
Cast over a shoulder.
I am alone,

Four years older;
Like the chairs and the walls
Which I once watched brighten
With you beside me. I was to waken
Never like this, whatever came or was taken.

The stalk grows, the year beats on the wind.
Apples come, and the month for their fall.
The bark spreads, the roots tighten.
Though today be the last
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Women
Women have no wilderness in them,
They are provident instead,
Content in the tight hot cell of their hearts
To eat dusty bread.

They do not see cattle cropping red winter grass,
They do not hear
Snow water going down under culverts
Shallow and clear.
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Portrait
She has no need to fear the fall
Of harvest from the laddered reach
Of orchards, nor the tide gone ebbing
From the steep beach.

Nor hold to pain's effrontery
Her body's bulwark, stern and savage,
Nor be a glass, where to forsee
Another's ravage.

What she has gathered, and what lost,
She will not find to lose again.
She is possessed by time, who once
Was loved by men.

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A Tale
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