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Descending Figure

3.93  ·  Rating details ·  138 Ratings  ·  11 Reviews
(The American poetry series)
Paperback, 48 pages
Published October 1st 1981 by Ecco Press (first published 1980)
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Apr 11, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry
The collection is broken into three part: "The Garden", "The Mirror", and "Lamentations".

The poems of "The Garden" present a personal portrait of the poet. Indeed, this is the poet at her most personal. In titular poem, "The Garden", the poet writes about her fears. In "Descending Figure", the poet writes about the death of her sister...

And then the losses,
one after another,
all supportable.
- The Garden, 1. The Fear of Birth

That body lying beside me like obedient stone -
once its eyes seemed to
Haines Eason
Aug 06, 2017 rated it really liked it
One of the best opening sections I've yet read. Dark, assured and timeless poems by one of the best, if not the best, contemporary voice. An essential modern collection.
Sep 01, 2009 rated it really liked it
Trying to educate myself in Gluck!

What I liked about this book:
(1) the tight, spare style (although it took awhile for me to get used to it)
(2) the occasional very intense, often quite dark metaphor (a kiss is a hand over a mouth; a woman's body is a grave ["it will accept anything":])
(3)Her imaginative interpretation of Genesis in "Lamentations"--God leaps into heaven after he leaves Adam and Eve to themselves, and enjoys his first view of earth from the air--wow, what an original and beautif
Jan 10, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: poetry
3.5, Still too uneven for me, but getting better with each collection. There are some real gems to be found here, particularly in the last section-- "The Dream of Mourning," "Autumnal," "Portrait."
Oct 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry, favorites
Glück delves so deep into the liminal - the in-between - in this collection that you often forget she is exploring the interstitial spaces in reality rather than the world entire - or is she? With a careful, sure cadence that lingers over powerful images and emotions, she conveys a developed and developing understanding of her personal place in the world as a woman and a human being but does so in a way that speaks to every woman and every human being. She jumps from the micro- to the macro-cosm ...more
Mike Jensen
Feb 07, 2014 rated it liked it
I'm glad I did not know Gluck in 1980. What a downer. From her messed up family, her anger at others, especially men, the joyless blaming sex, and other things, the self-portrait she paints is of one who would suck-forth your soul. I do not who or what brought her to this point in her life, but then, I don't want to know.

She is certainly gifted at crafting this kind of poem, though I still struggle with understanding the point to deliberately using occasional words that seem so wrong. I imagine
Troy VanGundy
Oct 29, 2015 rated it really liked it
"Against the black sky
they saw the massive argument of light."

Most of the longer poems and certain images Ms. Gluck seems to be going for in this collection escape me to the point where she seems to be talking nonsense. That being said, as always except in perhaps her first collection, she soars and delivers words like food, leaving me hungry for more.
Sep 12, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: the-poetry-man
I liked it, but more than elsewhere in her work, this is where Glück verges on familiar tropes and the melodramatic.

From 'Tango:'

How we used to dance? Inseparable,
Back and fourth across the living room,
Adios Muchachos, like an insect,
Moving on a mirror: envy
Is a dance, too; the need to hurt
Binds you to your partner.
Dec 12, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: louise-gluck, poetry
And the past, as always, stretched before us,
still, complex, impenetrable.
If I could write to you
about this emptiness—
The sky above the sea had turned
the odd pale peach color of early evening
from which the sea withdrew, bearing
its carved boats:
Apr 26, 2014 added it
Reread for the third time
Aug 28, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry, w
Much better than her first two books, which were bland New Englandy things. There is much more emotion present in these poems.
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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