Ripe for the mouths of chance lovers, or birds

“Sub Contra

– Louise Bogan

Notes on the tuned frame of strings
Plucked or silenced under the hand
Whimper lightly to the ear,
Delicate and involute,
Like the mockery in a shell.
Lest the brain forget the thunder
The roused heart once made it hear,—
Rising as that clamor fell,—
Let there sound from music’s root
One note rage can understand.
A line noise of riven things,
Build there some thick chord of wonder;
Then, for every passion’s sake,
Beat upon it till it break.”

(Source: Collected Poems, 1923-1953)

*

“Tears in Sleep

– Louise Bogan

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.”

(Source: The Blue Estuaries: Poems, 1923-1968)

*

“Elders

– Louise Bogan

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.”

(Source: Poetry Magazine, August, 1922)

*

“Knowledge

– Louise Bogan

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.”

(Source: Collected Poems, 1923-1953)


Botanical Illustration, Garden Peach Art Print, Redoute Fruit Illustration No. 95
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