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Medusa

Louise Bogan

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2002-12-15
Added by: Angelina
This poem is heavily Freudian, yet it can be read in other ways too.(as all poetry, anyway...)What would Yung say about this struggle with the anima and the presence of the shadow?It is a remarkable poem, but then again Bogan is a genious....
2006-08-29
Added by: Cameron Lindsay
The poem indeed does appear to have Freudian and Jungian influences though as both these famous psychologists drew heavily from mythological concepts themselves, it may just be that the poem and theories emerged from the same cultural milieu.
A Fruedian reading could focus on patterns of sexually charged imagery. "The cave of trees" where the gorgon lives would be viewed by Freudians as a symbol of the womb and hence the poem could be viewed as terrified response to the Mother. A further piece of imagery that Freudians might seize upon is the crucial "bell", another concave object that may function as a womb metaphor. The bell is also tolling time so in some senses the terrifying Mother figure that the poem is discussing may also be Nature or the cosmos itself, the controller of time.
Some aspects of the poem could also be viewed within a Jungian paradigm. Indeed a Jungian reading may be able to explain some aspects of the text that do no fit easily within Freudian thought. For example if the environment of the poem, no less than its terrifying inhabitant, are an embodiment of Woman/The Mother, why is this figure given such a horrifying depiction? In the Freudian world castration anxiety is supposed to be related to a father figure and male subjects. Why is Medusa such a focus of terror?
Jungians may have a readier answer. In Jungian thought the Mother that gives love may later try and smother the infant, jealous of its growth away from her. This vengeful side of the Mother may be represented here by her turning the narrator into stone. Medusa may alternately represent the archetype of the negative anima. This negative anima archetype delights in leading the subject into terrible danger. The gorgon's turning of the poet may represent her draining the life from them, from stealing their vitality and energy.
These perspectives may be of some value but the poem should also be enjoyed for its rather unique and frightening take on eternity. "This is a dead scene forever now. Nothing will ever stir." The poem's long, final description of a scene in stasis reminds us that it is change which gives life its dynamism and excitement. The changeless vista which confronts the poet at the end of his strange lyric is a very distubing purgatorio indeed.

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