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About this poet

Louise Bogan was born in Livermore Falls, Maine, on August 11, 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. Bogan's 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. 

The majority of her poetry was written in the earlier half of her life when she published Body of This Death (McBride & Company, 1923), Dark Summer (Charles Scribner's Sons, 1929), and The Sleeping Fury (Charles Scribner's Sons, 1937). She subsequently published volumes of her collected verse, and The Blue Estuaries: Poems 1923-1968 (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1968), an overview of her life's work in poetry. She died in New York City on February 4, 1970. 


Selected Bibliography

Poetry

The Blue Estuaries 1923-1968 (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1968)
Collected Poems 1923-1953 (Noonday Press, 1954)
Poems and New Poems (Charles Scribner's Sons, 1941)
The Sleeping Fury (Charles Scribner's Sons, 1937)
Dark Summer (Charles Scribner's Sons, 1929)
Body of This Death (McBride & Company, 1923)

Prose

What The Woman Lived: Selected Letters of Louise Bogan 1920-1970 (Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1973)
Selected Criticism: Poetry and Prose (Noonday Press, 1955)
Achievement in American Poetry, 1900-1950 (H. Regnery Company, 1951)

Elders

Louise Bogan, 1897 - 1970

At night the moon shakes the bright dice of the water;
And the elders, their flower light as broken snow upon the bush,
Repeat the circle of the moon.

Within the month
Black fruit breaks from the white flower.
The black-wheeled berries turn
Weighing the boughs over the road.
There is no harvest.
Heavy to withering, the black wheels bend
Ripe for the mouths of chance lovers,
Or birds.

      Twigs show again in the quick cleavage of season and season.
      The elders sag over the powdery road-bank,
      As though they bore, and it were too much,
      The seed of the year beyond the year.

This poem appeared in Poem-A-Day on August 11, 2013. Browse the Poem-A-Day archive.

This poem appeared in Poem-A-Day on August 11, 2013. Browse the Poem-A-Day archive.

Louise Bogan

Louise Bogan

Louise Bogan was born in Livermore Falls, Maine, in 1897. She attended Boston

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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