Best Famous Louise Bogan Poems

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Written by Louise Bogan | Create an image from this poem

Solitary Observation Brought Back From A Sojourn In Hell

 At midnight tears
Run in your ears.
Written by Louise Bogan | Create an image from this poem

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.
Beyond, a garden, There, in insolent ease The lead and marble figures watch the show Of yet another summer loath to go Although the scythes hang in the apple trees.
Now that I have your face by heart, I look.
Now that I have your voice by heart, I read In the black chords upon a dulling page Music that is not meant for music's cage, Whose emblems mix with words that shake and bleed.
The staves are shuttled over with a stark Unprinted silence.
In a double dream I must spell out the storm, the running stream.
The beat's too swift.
The notes shift in the dark.
Now that I have your voice by heart, I read.
Now that I have your heart by heart, I see The wharves with their great ships and architraves; The rigging and the cargo and the slaves On a strange beach under a broken sky.
O not departure, but a voyage done! The bales stand on the stone; the anchor weeps Its red rust downward, and the long vine creeps Beside the salt herb, in the lengthening sun.
Now that I have your heart by heart, I see.
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The Dream

 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.
Coward complete, I lay and wept on the ground When some strong creature appeared, and leapt for the rein.
Another woman, as I lay half in a swound Leapt in the air, and clutched at the leather and chain.
Give him, she said, something of yours as a charm.
Throw him, she said, some poor thing you alone claim.
No, no, I cried, he hates me; he is out for harm, And whether I yield or not, it is all the same.
But, like a lion in a legend, when I flung the glove Pulled from my sweating, my cold right hand; The terrible beast, that no one may understand, Came to my side, and put down his head in love.
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 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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The Dream

 Love, if I weep it will not matter,
 And if you laugh I shall not care;
Foolish am I to think about it,
 But it is good to feel you there.
Love, in my sleep I dreamed of waking,— White and awful the moonlight reached Over the floor, and somewhere, somewhere, There was a shutter loose,—it screeched! Swung in the wind,—and no wind blowing!— I was afraid, and turned to you, Put out my hand to you for comfort,— And you were gone! Cold, cold as dew, Under my hand the moonlight lay! Love, if you laugh I shall not care, But if I weep it will not matter,— Ah, it is good to feel you there!
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 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 Formed in the air.
This is a dead scene forever now.
Nothing will ever stir.
The end will never brighten it more than this, Nor the rain blur.
The water will always fall, and will not fall, And the tipped bell make no sound.
The grass will always be growing for hay Deep on the ground.
And I shall stand here like a shadow Under the great balanced day, My eyes on the yellow dust, that was lifting in the wind, And does not drift away.
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 A child draws the outline of a body.
She draws what she can, but it is white all through, she cannot fill in what she knows is there.
Within the unsupported line, she knows that life is missing; she has cut one background from another.
Like a child, she turns to her mother.
And you draw the heart against the emptiness she has created.
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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, 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.
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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.
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 Off that landspit of stony mouth-plugs,
Eyes rolled by white sticks,
Ears cupping the sea's incoherences,
You house your unnerving head -- God-ball,
Lens of mercies,
Your stooges
Plying their wild cells in my keel's shadow,
Pushing by like hearts,
Red stigmata at the very center,
Riding the rip tide to the nearest point of

Dragging their Jesus hair.
Did I escape, I wonder? My mind winds to you Old barnacled umbilicus, Atlantic cable, Keeping itself, it seems, in a state of miraculous repair.
In any case, you are always there, Tremulous breath at the end of my line, Curve of water upleaping To my water rod, dazzling and grateful, Touching and sucking.
I didn't call you.
I didn't call you at all.
Nevertheless, nevertheless You steamed to me over the sea, Fat and red, a placenta Paralyzing the kicking lovers.
Cobra light Squeezing the breath from the blood bells Of the fuchsia.
I could draw no breath, Dead and moneyless, Overexposed, like an X-ray.
Who do you think you are? A Communion wafer? Blubbery Mary? I shall take no bite of your body, Bottle in which I live, Ghastly Vatican.
I am sick to death of hot salt.
Green as eunuchs, your wishes Hiss at my sins.
Off, off, eely tentacle! There is nothing between us.
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 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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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,
A labor of tears, set against joy's undoing.
I would not wake at your word, I had tears to say.
I clung to the bars of the dream and they were said, And pain's derisive hand had given me rest From the night giving off flames, and the dark renewing.
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Juans Song

 When beauty breaks and falls asunder
I feel no grief for it, but wonder.
When love, like a frail shell, lies broken, I keep no chip of it for token.
I never had a man for friend Who did not know that love must end.
I never had a girl for lover Who could discern when love was over.
What the wise doubt, the fool believes-- Who is it, then, that love deceives?
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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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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, 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.