Deborah Pope: On "Medusa"

"Medusa" continues the previous poem's ["A Tale"] final image of a static, unproductive landscape dominated by forces "looking quietly upon each other." In order to create the ideal environment the youth sought, Bogan turns to the figure of Medusa, whose mythic power stops time and process, seeking the goddess the way the youth seeks his desert.

[. . . .]

After this apparition, the speaker is frozen in a landscape that evades the death wish of the youth by virtue of its water and foliage; yet, through the agency of Medusa, any threatening process is also evaded. In this fantastic realm, the speaker has it both ways, much like the figures adorning Keats's Grecian urn. There is fertility (water, grass, hay) without the corruption of it (the water does not fall, nor the hay get mown).

[. . . .]

This paradoxical stasis and motion is not "dreadful" to the speaker, as are the opposing forces of "A Tale"; here all has come to a "great balanced day." The drawback is that this balance is possible only through the intervention of the supernatural. At this point the speaker cannot appropriate for herself the feminine power embodied in Medusa, and so she remains still and passive in the dead scene.

From A Separate Vision: Isolation in Contemporary Women's Poetry. Copyright © 1984 by Louisiana State University Press.

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Criticism Overview
Title Deborah Pope: On "Medusa" Type of Content Criticism
Criticism Author Deborah Pope Criticism Target Louise Bogan
Criticism Type Poet Originally Posted 31 May 2015
Publication Status Excerpted Criticism Publication Louise Bogan
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