In an astonishing book-length sequence, Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Louise Gluck interweaves the dissolution of a contemporary marriage with the story of The Odyssey. Here is Penelope stubbornly weaving, elevating the act of waiting into an act of will; here, too, is a worldly Circe, a divided Odysseus, and a shrewd adolescent Telemachus. Through these classical figures, M...more
The poems about the contemporary marriage typically t ...more
The multiple perspectives work so well; every narrator is empathetic and insightful in some way. Glück's phrasing is so sharp and exquisite. A few poems got into my heart and really twisted it around. How does she do it? I wanted to mark almost every poem as a favorite, but here are the ones I ultimately decided on:
Marina (ohhh man)
The Rock (the ultimate slytherin poem)
Purple Bathing Suit (complicated feeling ...more
Basically, this is a poem cycle based on the relationship between Penelope and Odysseus from The Odyssey, except it's a relationship placed in modern times which refers to events that happened about a decade ago. This is a post-Odyssey recollection, but the poems move around in time and perspective (some poems shift back and forth between Penelope and Odysseus); some of the funniest, in fact, are from th ...more
Telemachus tells us a couple of things about his parents ("sometimes inclining to/ _husband and wife,_ other times/ to _opposing forces_"), and we also hear straight dialogue between the contemporary couple (One person says, "One thing I've always hated/ about you: I hate that you refuse/ to have people at the house. Flaubert/ had more f ...more
The language is quiet and prose-y, and the whole has much the air of a meditation. Plenty of interesting insights and well-observed commentary, but it was the sort of stuff I found myself reading and appreciating with my head – not much about the language that hooked me e ...more
"Ceremony," "Moonless Night," "Rainy Morning," "Midnight," "Siren," "The Rock," "Parable of Flight," "The Butterfly," "The Wish," "Penelope's Stubborness," and "Telemachus' Confession"
The restorative powers of an allowed metamorphosis, the letting go, and the acceptance that things will not always resolve, become clear. How empowering this all is, when one struggles to comprehend and finally absorbs these ideas into thei ...more
But also, I think poetry should grab you - that's not unreasonable, right? Good writing makes you care, makes you ask for more. I didn't ask for more. There were a couple of highlights - a couple of good lines or couplets - and the collection is generally witty and rigorous, but in this instance that's not enough.
Sadly, I can't remember any more of what I thought while reading this. I distinctly recall loving a few of the lines, but nothing really stands out for me now. My own rating from 2008 gives this a 4/5.
what species they are?
They leave here, that’s the point,
first their bodies, then their sad cries.
And from that moment, cease to exist for us.
You must learn to think of our passion that way.
Each kiss was real, then
each kiss left the face of the earth.
Glück is the author of twelve books of poetry, including: "A Village Life" (2009); Averno (2006), which was a finalist for The National Book Award; The Seven Ages (2001); Vita Nova (1999), which was awarded The New Yorker's Book Award in Poetr ...more
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do now as I bid you, climb
the shelf-like branches of the spruce tree;
wait at the top, attentive, like
a sentry or look-out. He will be home soon;
it behooves you to be
generous. You have not been completely
perfect either; with your troublesome body
you have done things you shouldn’t
discuss in poems. Therefore
call out to him over the open water, over the bright water
with your dark song, with your grasping,
like Marie Callas. Who
wouldn’t want you? Whose most demonic appetite
could you possibly fail to answer? Soon
he will return from wherever he goes in the meantime,
suntanned from his time away, wanting
his grilled chicken. Ah, you must greet him,
you must shake the boughs of the tree
to get his attention,
but carefully, carefully, lest
his beautiful face be marred
by too many falling needles.”