Biography of Louise Bogan
Born in Livermore Falls, Maine, in 1897. She attended Boston Girls' Latin School and spent one year at Boston University. She married in 1916 and was widowed in 1920. In 1925, she married her second husband, the poet Raymond Holden, whom she divorced in 1937. Her poems were published in the New Republic, the Nation, Poetry: A Magazine of Verse, Scribner's and Atlantic Monthly. For thirty-eight years, she reviewed poetry for The New Yorker.
Bogan found the confessional poetry of Robert Lowell and John Berryman distasteful and self-indulgent. With the poets whose work she admired, however, such as Theodore Roethke, she was extremely supportive and encouraging. She was reclusive and disliked talking about herself, and for that reason details are scarce regarding her private life. The majority of her poetry was written in the earlier half of her life when she published Body of This Death (1923) and Dark Summer (1929) and The Sleeping Fury (1937). She subsequently published volumes of her collected verse, and The Blue Estuaries: Poems 1923-1968, an overview of her life's work in poetry. Her ability is unique in its strict adherence to lyrical forms, while maintaining a high emotional pitch: she was preoccupied with exploring the perpetual disparity of heart and mind. She died in New York City in 1970.
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Louise Bogan Poems
Song For The Last Act
Now that I have your face by heart, I look Less at its features than its darkening frame Where quince and melon, yellow as young flame, Lie with quilled dahlias and the shepherd's crook.
O God, in the dream the terrible horse began To paw at the air, and make for me with his blows, Fear kept for thirty-five years poured through his mane, And retribution equally old, or nearly, breathed through his nose.
Up from the bronze, I saw Water without a flaw Rush to its rest in air, Reach to its rest, and fall.
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:
To A Dead Lover
The dark is thrown Back from the brightness, like hair Cast over a shoulder. I am alone,
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.
Now that I know How passion warms little Of flesh in the mould, And treasure is brittle,--
Last Hill In A Vista
Come, let us tell the weeds in ditches How we are poor, who once had riches, And lie out in the sparse and sodden Pastures that the cows have trodden,
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.
Tears In Sleep
All night the cocks crew, under a moon like day, And I, in the cage of sleep, on a stranger's breast, Shed tears, like a task not to be put away--- In the false light, false grief in my happy bed,
It is yourself you seek In a long rage, Scanning through light and darkness Mirrors, the page,
This youth too long has heard the break Of waters in a land of change. He goes to see what suns can make From soil more indurate and strange.
The Frightened Man
In fear of the rich mouth I kissed the thin,-- Even that was a trap To snare me in.
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
Chanson Un Peu Naïve
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,