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 the 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.

  • Louise Bogan, “Song for the Last Act” from The Blue Estuaries: Poems 1923-1968. Copyright © 1968 by Louise Bogan. Used by permission of Farrar, Straus & Giroux, LLC, http://us.macmillan.com/fsg. All rights reserved.

  • Source: The Blue Estuaries: Poems 1923-1968 (Farrar Straus and Giroux, 1968)

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