Study Guide

Women Stanza 1

By Louise Bogan

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Stanza 1

Lines 1-2

Women have no wilderness in them,
They are provident instead,

  • Let the criticism…begin. Right off the bat, our speaker tells us what women are lacking: "wilderness."
  • Sometimes being wild can be a bad thing. (We're looking at you, Shia Lebeouf.) In this case, though, this seems like a figurative way to say that women have no sense of adventure.
  • That idea is carried on when the speaker describes them as "provident," or carefully planning for the future.
  • In a nutshell, then, women are all boring, cautious, fuddy-duddies. We wonder if there's a catch to this critique. Let's keep reading.

Lines 3-4

Content in the tight hot cell of their hearts
To eat dusty bread.

  • And…there's no catch to be seen. Instead, the speaker describes women as "content," which doesn't really strike us as a compliment. In fact, this is followed up with a metaphor to describe the position of women as being in a "tight hot cell." Now, a tight hot cell might run you a few grand to rent one summer in downtown Manhattan or San Francisco, but otherwise it's not a fun place to be. The image here is one of confinement and discomfort.
  • And apparently "dusty bread" is on the menu. Women will apparently eat it without complaint, though.
  • All in all, this first stanza gives us a view of women as restrained and restricted. What's worse: our speaker sees them as content to be that way.
  • Before we move on from this depressing first set of lines, we should note that we have a little rhyme action going on in lines 2 and 4. Check out "Form and Meter" for more on that.

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