Lorine Niedecker’s “Black Hawk held:”

Publication history:

This short poem was probably written in 1941 and was included in Niedecker’s first book, New Goose, published in 1946 by the Press of James A. Decker.  One of Niedecker’s favorite poems, she also included it her second book, My Friend Tree published in 1961 by The Wild Hawthorn Press[1] in Edinburgh, Scotland as well as both of the collected editions of her work that appeared during her lifetime: T&G: The Collected Poems, 1936-1966, published in 1969 by Jonathan Williams’ , and My Life By Water: Collected Poems 1936-1968, published by Stuart and Deidre Montgomery’s Fulcrum Press in London in 1970.

Black Hawk held: In reason
land cannot be sold,
only things to be carried away,
and I am old.

Young Lincoln’s general moved,
pawpaw in bloom,
and to this day, Black Hawk,
reason has small room.

Post-poem quiz:

Additional Learning Material:

Sarah Day reads some of Niedecker’s autobiographical poetry in a short film with footage from her life and home place:

Several friends of Lorine Niedecker discussing Niedecker’s poem “Foreclosure” at her cabin on Blackhawk Island. The video includes a discussion of the “Black Hawk Held” poem:

  1. The Wild Hawthorn Press was operated by the iconoclastic Scottish artist Ian Hamilton Finlay.


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