Louise Bogan, whose father was a mill worker in Livermore Falls, is commonly known as one of the finest American poets of the twentieth century. Among her many strengths is her economy of language. Here are two brief examples of Bogan’s compression — and her wit. 

Question in a Field

Pasture, stone wall, and steeple,

What most perturbs the mind:

The heart-rending homely people,

Or the horrible beautiful kind? 

To an Artist, to Take Heart

Slipping in blood, by his own hand, through pride,

Hamlet, Othello, Coriolanus fall.

Upon his bed, however, Shakespeare died,

Having endured them all.


 

Take Heart: A Conversation in Poetry is produced in collaboration with the Maine Writers & Publishers Alliance. Poem copyright © 1968 by Louise Bogan. Reprinted from “The Blue Estuaries: Poems: 1923-1968,” Farrar, Straus and Giroux, New York, 1968, by permission of Farr, Straus and Giroux. Questions about submitting to Take Heart may be directed to David Turner, special assistant to the Maine Poet Laureate, at poetlaureate

@mainewriters.org or 228-8263.