Most Read... Rebecca WattsThe Cult of the Noble Amateur
(PN Review 239)
John McAuliffeBill Manhire in Conversation with John McAuliffe
(PN Review 259)
Eavan BolandA Lyric Voice at Bay
(PN Review 121)
Patricia CraigVal Warner: A Reminiscence
(PN Review 259)
Vahni CapildeoOn Judging Prizes, & Reading More than Six Really Good Books
(PN Review 237)
Tim Parksin conversation with Natalia Ginzburg
(PN Review 49)
Next Issue Gwyneth Lewis ‘Spiderings’ Ian Thomson ‘Fires were started: Tallinn, 1944’ Adrian May ‘Traditionalism and Tradition’ Judith Herzberg ‘Poems’ translated by Margitt Helbert Horatio Morpurgo ‘What is a Book?’
Poems Articles Interviews Reports Reviews Contributors
PN Review 276
PN Review Substack

This report is taken from PN Review 133, Volume 26 Number 5, May - June 2000.

Edgar Bowers 1924-2000 Clive Wilmer

The American poet Edgar Bowers died in San Francisco on 4 February. He was 75.

The title of his 1990 collection, For Louis Pasteur, announces his key loyalties. He confesses to celebrating every year the birthdays of three heroes: Pasteur, Mozart and Paul Valéry. All three suggest an admiration for the life of the mind lived at its highest pitch: a concern for science and its social uses, and a love of art that is elegant, cerebral and orderly. Though he was essentially a rationalist, Bowers' poems are marked by extreme aesthetic refinement and an intense feeling for the mystery of things. His friend and teacher Yvor Winters described him as having 'the temperament of a mystical Calvinist', though with 'too good a mind to accept the Calvinist faith or any other'. He was, indeed, brought up a Presbyterian and in certain ways it showed.

Bowers experienced a brief period of prominence in the early 1960s. In Britain, for instance, he was anthologised both by Donald Hall in The Penguin Book of Contemporary American Verse and by Thom Gunn and Ted Hughes in the Faber Five American Poets. But today, even among committed readers of poetry, his name is little known. That being the case, the tally of admirers is an impressive one. It has included Robert Lowell, Richard Wilbur, Geoffrey Hill, Tony Tanner and Harold Bloom, who placed him in his list of modern immortals in The Western Canon. Among younger poets who have ...


Searching, please wait... animated waiting image