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Edgar Bowers

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Edgar Bowers
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Edgar Bowers was born on March 2, 1924, in Rome, Georgia, where his father ran a plant nursery. During World War II he served in Counter Intelligence, ending his military service in Berchtesgaden, Hitler's eyrie in the Bavarian Alps. The experiences of these years had a deep and permanent effect on his poetry. Upon his discharge in April 1946 he returned to the University of North Carolina and then finished his graduate studies with a PhD in English at Stanford University.

In 1956 Bowers published his first collection of poetry, The Form of Loss (A. Swallow). His other books of poetry are Collected Poems (Alfred A. Knopf, 1997); For Louis Pasteur (Princeton University Press, 1990), which won the Bollingen Prize for Poetry; Living Together (DRG Publishing, 1973); and The Astronomers (A. Swallow, 1965). Bowers, who received two Guggenheim Foundation fellowships, worked as a professor of English at the University of California, Santa Barbara, for most of his professional career. After retiring in 1991, he moved to San Francisco, where he lived until his death on February 4, 2000.

A Selected Bibliography


Collected Poems (Alfred A. Knopf, 1997)
For Louis Pasteur: Selected Poems (Princeton University Press, 1990)
Living Together (DRG Publishing, 1973)
The Astronomers (A. Swallow, 1965)
The Form of Loss (A. Swallow, 1956)

by this poet


"Who is Apollo?" College student

How shall a generation know its story
If it will know no other? When, among
The scoffers at the Institute, Pasteur
Heard one deny the cause of child-birth fever,
Indignantly he drew upon the blackboard,
For all to see, the Streptococcus chain.
His mind
Before he wrote a poem, he learned the measure
That living in the future gives a farm--
Propinquity of mules and cows, the charmed
Insouciance of hens, the fellowship,
At dawn, of seed-time and of harvest-time.
But when high noon gave way to evening, and
The fences lay, bent shadows, on the crops
And pastures to
With their harsh leaves old rhododendrons fill 
The crevices in grave plots' broken stones.
The bees renew the blossoms they destroy,
While in the burning air the pines rise still,
Commemorating long forgotten biers.
Their roots replace the semblance of these bones.

The weight of cool, of imperceptible dust