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Meadowlands Meadowlands

4.10  ·  Rating Details  ·  724 Ratings  ·  50 Reviews

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

Hardcover, 61 pages
Published April 1st 1996 by Ecco Press (first published 1996)
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May 30, 2015 Matthew rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry
At the heart of Meadowlands is the juxtaposition of a contemporary marriage and the story of The Odyssey . The effect, however disorienting, is curious. Reminiscent of Anne Carson's poetry (specifically Autobiography of Red , in which Carson explores the myth of Geryon and the Tenth Labor of Herakles in a contemporary setting). Albeit less "academic" than Anne Carson. Which is neither good nor bad, simply a difference between the two texts.

The poems about the contemporary marriage typically t
I recently read Gluck's "The Wild Iris" and loved her use of language and her turn of phrase, along with her ability to stick the knife in, mid-stanza, with some incisive comment about the human condition. "Meadowlands," her follow-up to "The Wild Iris," has the same pretense, but I found it a lot less satisfying. First, I have a problem in general with folks who feel the need to write extensively about historic works of art, whether it be ancient mythology, or Breugel, or, as is the case here, ...more
Oh, Louise. Louiiiise. You're so good at this.

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:

Penelope's Song
Rainy Morning
Marina (ohhh man)
The Rock (the ultimate slytherin poem)
Purple Bathing Suit (complicated feeling
Sep 14, 2009 Nicola rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Not so much. I love the Odyssey and I love Gluck, but somehow this collection fell flat. The most powerful poems were from Telemachus' perspective. But where does Telemachus fit in to the weaving of the couples now and then? Do we ever hear something from the modern day children's perspective? The snappy bickering between the modern couple doesn't ultimately seem to echo between Penelope and Odysseus. What do the "meadowlands" relate to in the ancient, mythic world? Elysian fields??? This collec ...more
Jessica Hosie
Apr 27, 2016 Jessica Hosie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
a pretty decent read. liked the bit about chicken.
Kristin Boldon
Jul 14, 2015 Kristin Boldon rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: borrowed, 2015
Lovely Odyssey-related poetry, with reimaginings of the women's voices
I'm usually not a big fan of Gluck. Her pastoral poetry doesn't do it for me and is not the style I swoon to. This book resonated with me, though. Perhaps it is because it describes a failing relationship with brief interjections from the child who deals/suffers with it. It's like reading this was looking into a mirror of my life throughout high school. Only I was the one with wanderlust.
Jul 10, 2014 Helen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Meadowlands is first and foremost a collection of poems about the fine art of practicing patience, or the lack thereof. Using the myth of the Odyssey, Gluck emphasizes Penelope's stubborn patience at her loom waiting for Odysseus to return, and Telemachus' impatience with his father and the dalliances he's had on his long journey home. Interwoven with the mythic poems are poems of a more modern relationship, spoken in two voices as a marriage slowly dissolves and the husband and wife begin to lo ...more
Nov 08, 2011 Susan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry
While not as great as its immediate predecessor, "The Wild Iris," nor as unified of the more recent "A Village Life," this collection holds together as it plays the bickering of a contemporary couple off the imagined musings of Penelope and Odysseus. The alternation lends some weight to the modern couple and humanizes the mythic, forcing our reflections on love, desire, marriage, men, women. But the best poems are those told in Telemachus' voice, which are often hilarious. They suggest a kind of ...more
Mar 19, 2009 Paula rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I'm not going to do this book justice, because of the way it's written, but I'm going to try.

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
May 22, 2008 Lisa rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Gluck blends the Greek myth of Odysseus (a waiting Penelope, what happens once Odysseus returns) with a contemporary disintegrating marriage, varying narrators.

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
Grace Bruenderman
Aug 27, 2007 Grace Bruenderman rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: mythology/persona poetry geeks
Shelves: poetrees
oh. god. so.... grood. great and grood. This is a book of persona poetry written from the perspective of Penelope, Odysseus, and Telemachus. It's lovely. While these three voices tell of the hard-to-hold relationship between Penny and Ody, Gluck peppers persona poems by a modern day man and woman whose marriage is falling apart. The modern couple and the ancient greek couple's romances and thoughts parallel each other in a way that makes your mouth do a little drop. Gluck's style is heavy, and y ...more
Apr 17, 2016 c rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I always wonder if I like this sort of thing, which seeks to repurpose mythology or at least relate to it in a way that inevitably feels contrived or at least anachronistic. I'm not sure that I did here, although I did like the Parables and Glück's way of enjambing is really interesting to me.
Sep 23, 2015 Kate rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed this collection of interweaving poems, but I think it helps to know about Homer's Odyssey to fully appreciate the poems written with that work in mind. 'Parable of the Swans' was a favourite, along with most of the modern life poems.
Oct 04, 2015 Myles rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I love several of the poems in this one. Glück is back to form with these deceptively simple parables and snippets from a relationship that somehow manages-- like all long relationships-- to both disintegrate and remain intact.
Master of the adverb.

"Ceremony," "Moonless Night," "Rainy Morning," "Midnight," "Siren," "The Rock," "Parable of Flight," "The Butterfly," "The Wish," "Penelope's Stubborness," and "Telemachus' Confession"
Feb 12, 2014 Lauren rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry
If you want to study beautiful examples of the modern persona poem, alive and well, Meadowlands is a great place to start. It's also just a really good read.
Claire Cousineau
Feb 11, 2016 Claire Cousineau rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Another interesting retelling of The Odyssey. Definitely one of the best poetry books that I've ever been exposed to.
Oct 27, 2015 Andria rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Quite hard to understand but quite good. Very useful to get ideas if you need to write poem.
Sarah Evans
Mar 14, 2014 Sarah Evans rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A really nice mix of lucid and beautiful
May 21, 2007 Cody rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
"Such a mistake to want / clarity above all things. What's / a single night, especially / one like this, now so close to ending? / On the other side, there could be anything, / all the joy in the world, the stars fading, / the streetlight becoming a bus stop."

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
Narkitsa Orada
Dec 28, 2015 Narkitsa Orada rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry
One thing I usually like about Gluck is that there is always a central premise running through her poetry. The fundamental problem with these poems is that the premise doesn't really make any sense. The speaker relates her own marital troubles to the relationship between Penelope and Odysseus --- but the comparison is never explained. Penelope is separated from her husband due to a war and Poseidon's dislike for him. Why is this arbitrarily being treated as somehow the same as a couple fighting?
I picked this one because I was looking at The Wild Iris and not paying strict attention. And, to be honest, I probably wasn't paying strict attention while I read it.

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.
Dec 27, 2007 Jay rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Linen-calm poems. Double story: of Odysseus's homecoming and of a crumbling modern marriage. (Doesn't it seem like all of Louise Gluck's old poems were about an awful marriage too? I don't get it.) She's so sensible -- calm voice, poems that feel like three-medium-breaths -- that it doesn't get violent or horrible or attention-getting. But I also wasn't clobbered by many of the poems, and I wish I had been. The best: Telemachus's monologues.
Jul 01, 2012 Cyrus rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Gluck in a satisfyingly spiky mode, especially in poems like "Purple Bathing Suit." A new wryness and humor entered her work for the first time with this book, which functions as comic opera about the dissolution of a marriage. The cross-cutting to moments from the Odyssey is mostly shrewd and quite effective as juxtaposition and commentary on the timelessness of domestic and relationship issues.
Mar 15, 2013 Jennifer rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Dang, I love smart women. Keen edge & capacious glimpse onto the history (and demise) of a marriage, via the frame/backdrop of the Odyssey. If you aren't familiar with Homer's Odyssey, don't let that put you off of this poetry collection--if you look up some basic info about it you will be able to access Gluck's poems without any problems. Super. Fierce. Woman. Poet.
Nov 02, 2011 Hilary rated it really liked it
I picked this up as a possible source for a term paper in 2008. I knew a few poems in that it wouldn't work out, but I liked enough of what I read to finish it.
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.
Mads P.
I didn't like this one even half as much as The Wild Iris. The theme of marriage with a mythological bent (character's from the Odyssey) just didn't capture my imagination and a lot of the poems felt flat. My favorite poem was "Cana". Circe's poem's were powerful...but I keep wanting more of what I found in The Wild Iris and I'm not finding it.
Sep 25, 2011 Cassie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry
This may be one of my favorite books of poetry of all time. And not because the language is exceptionally fresh, or because it's images at their finest hour, and metaphors like a full meal - but because it's real (even in the myth).

Review here:
Apr 25, 2015 Gus rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Basically my thoughts of this book were part of my review of the Odyssey. I loved this. A favorite little gem called 'Telemacchus' Detachment': "When I was a child looking/ at my parents' lives, you know/ what I thought? I thought/ heartbreaking. Now I think/ heartbreaking, but also/insane. Also/ very funny." <33
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Glück was born in New York City of Hungarian Jewish heritage and grew up on Long Island. Glück attended Sarah Lawrence College and later Columbia University.

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 about Louise Glück...

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“Little soul, little perpetually undressed one,
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,
unnatural song—passionate,
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.”
More quotes…