A Poem For Saturday


2013 marks the centennial of May Swenson’s birth and to celebrate The Library of America has just published May Swenson: Collected Poems, the first comprehensive collection of her poetry ever published. There will be an event to mark the occasion next Tuesday, May 28th – Swenson’s birthday – at 7 pm at Poets House in New York City, co-sponsored by the Poetry Society of America, directed by the Dish’s poetry editor Alice Quinn. Participants include Jeanne Marie Beaumont, Sharon Dolin, Mark Doty, Jessica Greenbaum, Marilyn Hacker, Richard Howard, Jan Heller Levi, Gardner McFall, Willard Spiegelman, and Samantha Thornhill, each reading a favorite poem or two by this fetching poet. To add to the occasion, we will be featuring Swenson’s poetry this weekend, beginning with “Question”:

Body my house
my horse my hound
what will I do
when you are fallen

Where will I sleep
How will I ride
What will I hunt

Where can I go
without my mount
all eager and quick
How will I know
in thicket ahead
is danger or treasure
when Body my good
bright dog is dead

How will it be
to lie in the sky
without roof or door
and wind for an eye

With cloud for shift
how will I hide?

(From May Swenson: Collected Poems, Langdon Hammer, editor (The Library of America, 2013) © The Literary Estate of May Swenson. Photo © Larry Fink. Swenson is on the far right, speaking with W.S. and Paula Merwin.)