Showing posts from September, 2013

Louise Gluck: SUMMER NIGHT

Louise Glück SUMMER NIGHT Orderly, and out of long habit, my heart continues to beat. I hear it, nights when I wake, over the mild sound of the air conditioner. As I used to hear it over the beloved’s heart, or variety of hearts, owing to there having been several. And as it beats, it continues to drum up ridiculous emotion. So many passionate letters never sent! So many urgent journeys conceived of on summer nights, surprise visits to men who were nearly complete strangers. The tickets never bought, the letters never stamped. And pride spared. And the life, in a sense, never completely lived. And the art always in some danger of growing repetitious. Why not? Why not? Why should my poems not imitate my life? Whose lesson is not the apotheosis but the pattern, whose meaning is not in the gesture but in the inertia, the reverie. Desire, loneliness, wind in the flowering almond— surely these are the great, the inexhaustible subjects to which my predecessors appre

On Louise Gluck's "Summer Night"

Several months have passed since I enjoyed the kind of summer night Louise Glück describes in her poem " Summer Night " from The Seven Ages (Ecco, 2001).   Image by Jan Bickerton, courtesy of Red Edge Images And maybe "enjoy" isn't the right word. The summer nights I'm thinking of involved some pretty difficult transitions, as we moved my father from the family home where he lived with my mother into a nursing home. Also, it isn’t exactly enjoyment Glück’s poem invites, as the speaker lies awake, wrenched by waves of memory and feeling. "Summer Night" comes near the end of the book, late in a sequence that stares down death. Glück’s "I" is personal, and not particularly constrained by circumstance, at least, not overtly. She gets to sit around on porches and terraces, in gardens, in temperate climates. She stares at stars, lives out her ordinary days. She isn't reporting for work, say, in a factory in Bangladesh. Yet the

On Louise Gluck's "Telescope"

Louise Glück TELESCOPE             There is a moment after you move your eye away when you forget where you are because you've been living, it seems, somewhere else, in the silence of the night sky. You've stopped being here in the world. You're in a different place, a place where human life has no meaning. You're not a creature in a body. You exist as the stars exist, participating in their stillness, their immensity. Then you're in the world again. At night, on a cold hill, taking the telescope apart. You realize afterward not that the image is false but the relation is false. You see again how far away each thing is from every other thing.                    from Averno (FSG, 2006)                             * We know the sun is the center of our solar system, that Earth orbits it along with seven (or eight) other planets and assorted moons, but many of us typically regard our place in the sun this way: Imag

On Light and Radishes

Every morning (roughly speaking) I throw on a slip or dressing gown -- such an elaborate name! evoking the vestige of what extended procedure for preparing to face the day i can't imagine; if I remember to drag a brush through my hair I figure I'm doing well -- and push open the curtains, four of them, to reveal the floor-to-ceiling view of sickly urban trees, brick walls, metal roofs, hydroelectric poles and wires, squirrels and birds, or not, cars, sky, and in the distance, very small, the freeway on its crumbling concrete legs. On rare occasions, my action coincides with the sun just cresting the buildings east of mine, so that light bounces all over the leaves and branches and wires and bricks, picking out the smallest details, endowing every texture, each bit of debris and apparatus, with apparent significance. For a moment, and if I'm lucky the moment extends to half an hour or, when I'm very lucky, an hour or more, I watch. There are times, increas