preview

Louise Bogan Poem Analysis

Born in Livermore Falls, Maine, Louise Bogan 's early life was tainted by turbulence and instability. Her mother was liable to to erratic and often violent behavior and would sometimes abandon her family, at times to take part in illicit affairs. By age eight, Bogan had become what she once described as "the semblance of a girl, in which some desires and illusions had been early assassinated: shot dead." Throughout the 1920s and 1930s, Bogan experienced severe depression, for which she endured psychoanalysis and was voluntarily institutionalized more than once. Louise Bogan’s well-known reserve about the details of her personal life extended to her poetry. She said that she had written down her experience in detail, leaving out only the coarse…show more content…
The poem is cast as an invective by a male speaker who generalizes about women and refers to them as “they.” This set of faults shapes the stereotype of “woman” that Bogan herself referred to irritably in several of her essays. The speaker’s harsh tone reduces toward pity, for women’s habits of using their own compassion against themselves, but he does not speculate on the causes of the many flaws in women. She inherited the Victorian and Romantic opinion that used the absurdities of emotion and intellect to woman and man, and then elevated those similar suggestions to the position of natural law.
In her poems, however, Bogan’s insight of stereotypes of gender illustrates a more complex vision. Bogan’s poem “Epitaph for a Romantic Woman,” for example, mocks the sentimental ideal of the detached woman. The romantic had sought to impose his vision of femininity on the young woman and lost both woman and ideal. In both “Women” and “The Romantic” the poet distances herself from the subject. In the first, presumptively male voice addresses, not about any real woman but about the idea of women, while in the second, a voice of unspecified gender addresses a man about a woman who has
…show more content…
In each of the three poems, “The Changed Woman,” “Chanson un peu Naïve,” and “For a Marriage,” an anonymous speaker talks about a woman who also remains unspecified and anonymous. “Chanson un peu naïve” expresses an ironic, despairing pity at the caustic consequences of frequent childbearing and an obvious self-deception that permits its persistence. In “For a Marriage,” a detached onlooker reflects on intimacy as a “sharing of pain” In this instance, the woman’s revelation of her pain to be shared by her husband. “The Changed Woman” is more ambiguous, referring perhaps to a miscarriage or abortion; the quality of the experience, the dream denied and driven, replaces factual references. Another usage of the theme is “The Crossed Apple”: Here an older person, man or woman directly addresses a young girl and offers the gift of an apple. The poem implores the creation myth in Genesis, as the voice suggests that eating the fruit means knowledge as well as sustenance: “She will taste more than fruit, blossom, sun, or
Get Access