Song for the Last Act

Louise Bogan


Song for the Last Act

Louise Bogan


Song for the Last Act

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 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.


'Song for the Last Act' from The Blue Estuaries: Poems 1923-1968 (Ecco Press, 1977), copyright © 1968 by Louise Bogan, copyright renewed 1996 by Ruth Limmer, used by permission of Farrar, Straus and Giroux, LLC. All rights reserved. www.fsgbooks.co

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