Medusa: Louise Bogan - Summary and Critical Analysis

In the poem Medusa the speaker remembers that she had gone into a house in the jungle. She was looking up the sky. Everything was active. The bell was ready to strike and the sun as well as her memory of ancient myths moved fast. Then she saw Medusa’s staring eyes and serpentine hair standing on the forehead. But this scene will never be repeated and nothing will be active.

Louise Bogan

The scene will neither be bright nor dim. The spring will fall, but the bell will not ring. The grass will grow on the wetland for animals. The speaker wants to look at the yellow hair of the beautiful maiden. The whole myth of Medusa has been re-enacted in her memory. The poet expresses about the incident when she had come to the house of ‘Medusa’, a beautiful Gorgon who was famous for her hair.

But she had violated the temple of Minerva, the goddess of intelligence of handicrafts and of the arts. Minerva then punished her by changing her hair into snakes and made her face so terrible looking and ugly that those who looked at her become stones. Though she was killed by Perseus, there was power in her face to turn anything into stone even after her death. Medusa’s house was in a care of trees below the clear sky where everything was as it should be. From the door the poet could see Medusa standing in the window, with still bare eyes and serpents on the forehead moving in the air staring at her.

But the mentioned scene is dead and nothing will ever move. Nothing can make this scene come alive; no rainfall can wash it away. The water may or may not fall. The bell may not make a sound. The grass around will keep growing. The poet will stand outside like a shadow. Her eyes are on the yellow dust that are lifting in the wind and not move away. Medusa’s stillness was also seen by the speaker after the death by Perseus. The poem is the imaginative thought of the speaker.

 The tone of the poem is serious and it describes the legendary event of Medusa’s murder and punishment. The poem is a recollection of the sad plight of Medusa. The punishment given to Medusa, earlier by Minerva was unjust. So even after her death Medusa retained the evil power to turn any onlooker to stone. But the poet also tries to give the positive aspect of Medusa. She equally symbolizes the feminine energy to keep a balance in nature, and she is also the source of art and life.

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