Men Loved Wholly Beyond Wisdom

Men loved wholly beyond wisdom
Have the staff without the banner.
Like a fire in a dry thicket
Rising within women’s eyes
Is the love men must return.
Heart, so subtle now, and trembling,
What a marvel to be wise,
To love never in this manner!
To be quiet in the fern
Like a thing gone dead and still,
Listening to the prisoned cricket
Shake its terrible, dissembling
Music in the granite hill.

And, because I like Louise Bogan so much, another:

Several Voices Out of a Cloud

Come, drunks and drug-takers; come perverts unnerved!
Receive the laurel, given, though late, on merit; to whom
   and wherever deserved.

Parochial punks, trimmers, nice people, joiners true-blue,
Get the hell out of the way of the laurel. It is deathless
   And it isn’t for you.

And, OK, just one more, frequently misquoted online:

Solitary Observation Brought Back From A Sojourn In Hell

At midnight tears
Run into your ears.

More Bogan here.


  1. Suspecting I might now be a parochial punk, if not a nice person, and thus ineligible for the laurel, I was feeling a bit blue today until I read this and recalled–if memory of a Norton bio is correct–that LB suffered gravely from feelings of self-doubt and worthlessness since she’d had “only” a hundred or so poems published. Not usually a bio-critic, I nonetheless took comfort where I found it–and now back to that bio of Posh and Becks…

  2. Louise Bogan is just stunning. I ran across “The Alchemist” in some dopey college anthology when I was in my teens and never got over it. She makes most poets look like sick parrots.
    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.

  3. Hunh, misprint at plagiarist.com — that should be “might” in the first line, not “may.” Didn’t notice til after I’d posted it.

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