May Swenson


May Swenson was born in Logan, Utah to Swedish immigrant parents—English was Swenson’s second language, and she grew up speaking Swedish at home. Swenson earned a BA from Utah State University and briefly worked as a reporter in Salt Lake City. She moved to New York City in the 1930s and in 1959 she began working at New Directions Press, the modernist publishing house founded by James Laughlin. Swenson is considered one of mid-century America’s foremost poets; her typographic innovations and exuberance earned comparisons to E.E. Cummings and her careful attention to the suggestiveness of objects, persons, and events of ordinary life could recall Elizabeth Bishop, with whom Swenson corresponded for decades. Swenson’s numerous collections of poetry include Another Animal (1954), A Cage of Spines (1958), To Mix with Time: New and Selected Poems (1963), Half Sun Half Sleep (1967), Iconographs (1970), New and Selected Things Taking Place (1978) and In Other Words (1987). Further collections, including The Love Poems (1991), Nature: Poems Old and New (1994), and May Out West (1996) were all published after her death. Source


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?





Literary Movements:


Anthology Years:



Body & Body Image


Literary Devices:

Rhetorical Question

a question asked for effect, not necessarily to be answered


correspondence of sound between words or the endings of words, especially when these are used at the ends of lines of poetry

Varied syntax

diverse sentence structure