Louise Bogan

October 16, 2006


Disturbed childhood due to difficult relationship between working-class parents
In poetry female figures appear both as icons of power and as figures to appease or fear
Attended Boston Girls’ Latin School, spent a year at Boston University
Married unhappily at 19 and divorced 12 years later
Reserved her best energies for her poetry and literary criticism she wrote for the New Yorker and journals
Found the confessional poetry of Robert Lowell and John Berryman distasteful and self-indulgent
W.H. Auden noted in a funeral eulogy, Bogan’s life was a

“struggle to wrest beauty and joy out of dark places.”

Companion of Theodore Roethke who saw Bogan as a ‘true inheritor’ of great poetry of the past, called her a poet who

“writes out of the severest lyrical tradition in English whose subjects are love, passion, its complexities, its tensions, its betrayals…”


Women have no wilderness in them, / They are provident instead, / Content in the tight hot cell of their hearts / To eat dusty bread.
They do not see cattle cropping red winter grass, / They do not hear / Snow water going down under culverts / Shallow and clear.
They wait, when they should turn to journeys, / They stiffen, when they should bend. / They use against themselves that benevolence / To which no man is friend.
They cannot think of so many crops to a field / Or of clean wood cleft by an axe. / Their love is an eager meaninglessness / Too tense, or too lax.
They hear in every whisper that speaks to them / A shout and a cry. / As like as not, when they take life over their door-sills / They should let it go by.

-Women (in whole)

Does Bogan take on the voice of a male speaker?
What is the purpose of the connection between masculinity and nature, and femininity and domesticity


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