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The blue estuaries: Poems, 19231968 Unknown Binding – 1 Jan 1975

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Product details

  • Unknown Binding: 136 pages
  • Publisher: Octagon Books (1975)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0374907501
  • ISBN-13: 978-0374907501
  • Product Dimensions: 17.1 x 10.8 x 2.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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Review

"Behind the Bogan poems is a woman, intense, proud, strong-willed. . . . Her poems can be read and reread: they keep yielding new meanings, as all good poetry should. The ground beat of great tradition can be heard, with the necessary and subtle variations. Bogan is one of the true inheritors."--Theodore Roethke

"Now that we can see the sweep of forty-five years' work in this collection of over a hundred poems, we can judge what a feat of character it has been. . . . [Bogan's] is a language as supple as it is accurate, dealing with things in their own tones. . . . Reading this book with delight, I was struck by a career of stubborn, individual excellence."--William Meredith, "The New York Review of Books"


Behind the Bogan poems is a woman, intense, proud, strong-willed. . . . Her poems can be read and reread: they keep yielding new meanings, as all good poetry should. The ground beat of great tradition can be heard, with the necessary and subtle variations. Bogan is one of the true inheritors. "Theodore Roethke"

Now that we can see the sweep of forty-five years' work in this collection of over a hundred poems, we can judge what a feat of character it has been. . . . [Bogan's] is a language as supple as it is accurate, dealing with things in their own tones. . . . Reading this book with delight, I was struck by a career of stubborn, individual excellence. "William Meredith, The New York Review of Books"" --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

About the Author

Books by the celebrated poet/critic Louise Bogan (1897-1970) include "Body of This Death" (1923), "Dark Summer" (1929), "The Sleeping Fury" (1937), "Poems and New Poems" (1941), "Collected Poems 1923-1953" (1954), "Achievement in American Poetry, 1900-1950" (1951), and "Collected Poems 1923-1953" (1954). "What the Woman Lived: Selected Letters of Louise Bogan 1920-1970" (1973) was edited by Ruth Limmer. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Format: Paperback
All her life, Louise Bogan exerted almost complete control over which of her poems were published and which were not. Her habit with each of her books, beginning with the Body of This Death (1923), was to exclude any previously published poems which no longer met her standards. Thus, Body of This Death included only one of five poems that had originally been published in the Chicago-based magazine Poetry just two years before. The following book, Dark Summer (1929), included poems Bogan wrote between 1923 and 1929, as well as several from Body of This Death -- but some poems were discarded. And so on: with each new volume, Bogan included poems which survived the winnowing of her rigorous eye, but discarded those with which, for whatever reason, she was no longer pleased. Bogan's final book, The Blue Estuaries, published a year before her death in 1970, collects in one volume all the poems she selected for her personal oeuvre.
The theme of psychological frozenness seemed to have exerted an early fascination for Bogan. "Medusa," for example, is an exquisitely rendered depiction of horrific changelessness. The speaker has seen something terrible -- represented by the Medusa, with her "stiff bald eyes" -- that has becomes transfixed in memory. It is the scene the speaker witnesses, not the speaker herself, that becomes frozen as a result of the encounter with the Medusa. Nothing in process at the beginning of the scene will be fulfilled, nor will anything follow: "The water will always fall, and will not fall.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: HASH(0x8c9baabc) out of 5 stars 8 reviews
42 of 43 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x8ceea108) out of 5 stars Every word is a workhorse in Bogan's compact, elegant lyrics 23 Dec. 1997
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
All her life, Louise Bogan exerted almost complete control over which of her poems were published and which were not. Her habit with each of her books, beginning with the Body of This Death (1923), was to exclude any previously published poems which no longer met her standards. Thus, Body of This Death included only one of five poems that had originally been published in the Chicago-based magazine Poetry just two years before. The following book, Dark Summer (1929), included poems Bogan wrote between 1923 and 1929, as well as several from Body of This Death -- but some poems were discarded. And so on: with each new volume, Bogan included poems which survived the winnowing of her rigorous eye, but discarded those with which, for whatever reason, she was no longer pleased. Bogan's final book, The Blue Estuaries, published a year before her death in 1970, collects in one volume all the poems she selected for her personal oeuvre.
The theme of psychological frozenness seemed to have exerted an early fascination for Bogan. "Medusa," for example, is an exquisitely rendered depiction of horrific changelessness. The speaker has seen something terrible -- represented by the Medusa, with her "stiff bald eyes" -- that has becomes transfixed in memory. It is the scene the speaker witnesses, not the speaker herself, that becomes frozen as a result of the encounter with the Medusa. Nothing in process at the beginning of the scene will be fulfilled, nor will anything follow: "The water will always fall, and will not fall."
By comparison, the lines in "The Sleeping Fury," a poem written several years later, are longer and looser than Bogan's usual controlled, formal lines, and they impose a structure fitting to the poem's content of freedom and redemption. The three Furies of Greek myth were responsible for punishing persons guilty of crimes that disturbed the social order -- murder (particularly of family members) or sexual crimes, for example. Here the speaker, whose crime we never learn, has tried to placate the enraged Fury with a burnt sacrifice; but while the sacrifice satisfies the society of which the speaker is a member, the Fury herself is unappeased. The speaker, whose repentance was half-hearted and false -- "The ignoble dream and the mask, sly, with slits at the eyes, / Pretence and half-sorrow, beneath which a coward's hope trembled." -- is still haunted by guilt and the Fury's scourges. It is only when the "scourged advances to meet" the Fury, turning back toward her to accept full punishment, that the Fury's rage come to an end and the speaker feel peace. This is a poem about guilt and expiation, self-confrontation and peace. It is also a poem about justice: "You, who give, unlike men, to expiation your mercy." "Men," says the speaker, will forgive even those who do not atone for their crimes -- but not the Fury, who is undeceived by the speaker's mask of "half-sorrow."
Though hearkening back to different mythological beings and written years apart from each other, "Medusa" and "The Sleeping Fury" are companion pieces, demonstrating Bogan's emotional range: in one poem, the depiction of pschological frozenness; in the other, the breaking open through a difficult self-confrontation to a peace in which even the frightening monster ceases to be frightful. One might speculate on the events in Bogan's life that gave rise to these poems, but we are unlikely to ever know for sure -- Bogan was not a confessional poet.
Most of Bogan's poems are short lyrics. Rarely do they exceed one printed page in length; rarely do they step outside the constraints of "closed" forms. Within those bounds, her close and careful attention to word choice makes even her shortest poems -- "Sub Contra," for example, or "Cassandra" or "The Drum" -- resonate with meaning. Many poets could write five times as many lines, each line twice as long, and not capture what Bogan captures half so well. "Her poems can be read and reread: they keep yielding new meanings, as all good poetry should," wrote Theodore Roethke.
Many of her poems may, however, present difficulties for the first-time reader. "Women are not noted for terseness," wrote Marianne Moore, "but Louise Bogan's poetry is compactness compacted," and Martha Collins has noted how reviewers of Bogan's poetry have frequently referred to Bogan's "craftsmanship" but almost in the same breath to her "obscurity." But given patience, close attention, an alert mind, and a good dictionary, her poems are not only penetrable, but among the best work American poetry has to offer.
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x8c9bc720) out of 5 stars A Major American Poet 2 Oct. 2007
By R. Albin - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This short book contains every poem that Bogan wished preserved, This is less than 130 short lyrics, some of them only a single stanza, the longest only about 3 pages. Bogan's output seems to be inversely related to the intensity of her work. After reading one of these poems, its hard to imagine that they could have been written any other way. You get the sense that altering a single word would be disfiguring. Some are a bit obscure but definitely repay careful reading. Several poems have great power and many others contain striking language. Bogan deserves to be more widely read.
HASH(0x8c8e718c) out of 5 stars Haunting loveliness, deep attachments to life, difficult to let go: 22 Dec. 2015
By T. M. Teale - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
When you compare the mysterious lyricism of her poetry in _Blue Estuaries_ to her clearly-stated letters to Edmund Wilson or Theodore Roethke and others in _A Poet’s Prose_, you might get the impression that two different women are writing, however, there is a tone of loss or reflection in her prose that’s there in her poetry. We can never know what kind of poetry or prose will come from a complex person; whatever the case may be, Bogan’s poems are so individual that no one else could “see” the way she did. Many people will find Bogan too vague, too personal, too psychological. Truly, this is not Yusef Komunyakaa or Luci Tapahonso, but Bogan is powerful indeed. Allow me to explain.

Throughout this volume, Bogan’s poetry has the tone of late autumn, a slow burn presaging the bite of winter. Every line smolders in this slow burn, this season of reflection; every experience is turned over, observing self and others. It’s frightening to cling to every moment as Bogan does, to have every image burn. See “Come, Sleep . . .”: “Do the shadows of these forms and appetites / Repeat, when these lives give over, / In sleep, the rôle of the selfish devourer, / The selfless lover?” (108).

Bogan’s poetry covers much of the same territory as an Existentialist philosopher--before Sartre and Beauvoir; of course, the ideas about existence were in society at large and Bogan lived a lot. See “Evening in the Sanitarium”: “The period of the wildest weeping, the fiercest delusion, is over. / The women rest their tired half-healed hearts; they are almost well” ( 111). Life should not mean so much that a person has a nervous breakdown; but if so, then one should make the most beautiful writing from it.

Bogan also adopts other personae, as in “After the Persian” and “Juan’s Song.” See “Cassandra”: “To me, one silly task is like another. / I bare the shambling tricks of lust and pride. / Song, like a wing, tears through my breast, my side, / And madness chooses out my voice again, / Again. I am the chosen no hand saves: / The shrieking heaven lifted over men, / Not the dumb earth, wherein they set their graves” (33). Wisdom comes to Bogan at last: “Goodbye, goodbye! / There was so much to love, I could not love it all; / I could not love it enough” (117).

In finishing this review, I must say goodbye to _Blue Estuaries_. It’s like saying goodbye to a very old friend, well-known, much appreciated--but a visionary and wise woman whose spirit will endure.

Do look at _A Poet’s Prose_, a book one can never be done with, and compare it to _Blue Estuaries_ and see what a complex mind she had. She certainly knew how to read others. And her letters to other writers show that her evaluation of the writing art was accurate in every instance.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x8c996be8) out of 5 stars The read deal 18 Dec. 2012
By David Emerson - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
By writing with a unique depth, clarity, and simplicity , Bogan elucidates the "mystery of being" in a way that is rare for even the best modern poets but is what poetry is really for.
HASH(0x8c7135c0) out of 5 stars astounding 29 Aug. 2014
By David Sahner Santa Cruz - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Louise Bogan, former editor at the New Yorker, was an extraordinary poet. This book contains testimony after testimony to her mastery. Not long ago I wrote to John Serio about one of the poems in this book, and I have copied and pasted my note here: "Last night I read an extraordinary poem by Louise Bogan, "Summer Wish." Perhaps you know it, but the poem is essentially a dialog between two voices, the first of which is cynical, world-weary, reality-oriented, bound by reason, and devoid of poetic sensibilities. The other speaks effusively of lush spring imagery, almost oblivious to the jaundiced pessimism of the first voice. The first voice utters a remarkable line near the end after reciting its own litany of various types of vegetation (some of which are poisonous), and then remarks on these ". . . symbols and poisons / We drink, in fervor, thinking to gain thereby / Some difference, some distinction." This struck me in theme and tone as so Stevensian. If you have not seen this poem, I hope that you find time for it as a close re-reading has repaid me in spades for the effort."

David Sahner
Santa Cruz, California
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