from Cabbage Gardens

By Susan Howe b. 1937 Susan Howe
The past
will overtake   
alien force   
our house   
of my mind   
to enter
in a forest   
of myself
for all
my learning   
and quieter   
of trees
by a river
bridges black   
on the deep   
the heaving sea   
a watcher stands
to see her ship   
winging away   
Thick noises
merge in moonlight   
dark ripples   

             Place of importance as in the old days
stood on the ramparts of the fort
                                                 the open sea outside   
alone with water-birds and cattle
                        knee-deep in a stream
grove of reeds
               herons watching from the bank
      whole fields honeycombed with souterrains   
                        bones through the gloom
       whose sudden mouth
surrounded my face
                      a thread of blue around the coast   
                                                         feathery moon   
eternity swallows up time
                                     peaceable as foam
                        O cabbage gardens
summer’s elegy
                        sunset survived

Susan Howe, excerpt from “Cabbage Gardens” from Frame Structures: Early Poems, 1974-1979. Copyright © 1974, 1975, 1978, 1979, 1996 by Susan Howe. Reprinted with the permission of New Directions Publishing Corporation.

Source: Frame Structures: Early Poems 1974-1979 (New Directions Publishing Corporation, 1996)

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Poet Susan Howe b. 1937

POET’S REGION U.S., New England

SCHOOL / PERIOD Language Poetry

Subjects Arts & Sciences, Language & Linguistics

Poetic Terms Free Verse

 Susan  Howe


One of the preeminent poets of her generation, Susan Howe is known for innovative verse that crosses genres and disciplines in its theoretical underpinnings and approach to history. Layered and allusive, her work draws on early American history and primary documents, weaving quotation and image into poems that often revise standard typography. Howe’s interest in the visual possibilities of language can be traced back to her . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Arts & Sciences, Language & Linguistics

POET’S REGION U.S., New England

SCHOOL / PERIOD Language Poetry

Poetic Terms Free Verse

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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