Lorine Niedecker’s “Black Hawk held:”

Steel Wagstaff

Publication history:

This short poem was probably written in 1941 and was included in Niedecker’s first book, New Goose, published in 1946 by .  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 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:

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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Lorine Niedecker’s “Black Hawk held:” by Steel Wagstaff is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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