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Roman Fountain

Louise Bogan

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2006-08-29
Added by: Cameron Lindsay
This is as much a musical performance as a poem. Bogan realises that the appeal of the fountain is as much auditory as visual and hence creates a sustained piece of lyrical music to celebrate it. The poem couples pairs of rhymes and is also elaborately alliterative. "I saw/ Water without a flaw/ Rush to its rest." In the final verse the sussurus of the water on the bronze bowl is captured by a lengthy string of alliteration based on the letter 's'.
Like many of America's finest women poets, Bogan had an uncannily precise eye for observation, never better exemplified than in this poem. She describes the water rising into the air, reaching the apex of its ascent and then falling onto the blackened bronze bowl below. A close reading of the poem reveals wonderful attention to detail. She captures the unevenness of the flow by referring to 'gouts' of water. She captures the verticality of the flow woth the word upright and best of all she captures the emotional impact of the fountain on the observer with the word 'alive' which rightly remind of us of how envigorating and enlivening the sound of running water is on the listener.
The poem also has significant symbolic dimensions. In a clever and original metaphor Bogan likens the fountain's moment of highest ascent to Summer, the height of the year. Surely this 'air of summer' is also symbolises the joy of the creative act and poetic epiphany. A symbolic parallel is drawn between the physical beauty of fountain and the beauty and joy of poetic inspiration and labour. "Still it is good to strive/ To beat out the image whole." The poem reminds us that the act of observation is, after all, what delivers to us the beauty of the world. Finally it can be assumed that the Roman fountain is also a symbol for the springhead of creativity and inspiration within the poet herself. The poem finds Bogan revelling in her own poetic gift.

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