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Triumph of Achilles

3.93  ·  Rating details ·  281 ratings  ·  34 reviews
From the opening line ("It is not the moon, I tell you") Gluck claims absolute control of subject, craft, and perception. We see what we are instructed to see; we understand what Gluck insists we understand. Gluck's sensitivity to emotional nuance is extreme: "I ask you, how much beauty/ can a person bear? It is/ heavier than ugliness, even the burden/ of emptiness is noth ...more
Paperback, 72 pages
Published May 1st 1987 by Ecco Press (first published 1985)
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Average rating 3.93  · 
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anna (½ of readsrainbow)
Jan 06, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: poetry
"In his tent, Achilles
grieved with his whole being
and the gods saw

he was a man already dead, a victim
of the part that loved,
the part that was mortal."

anyway i always forget i don't rly vibe w louise
Dec 07, 2009 rated it liked it
This begins with perhaps my favorite Gluck poem, "Mock Orange." I also liked "Metamorphosis" (the poem within the section) about her father dying. Wow, what a punch in the face that poem is. "Night Song" was amazing. "Adult Grief," another face-puncher. Other poems in the book don't do that much for me, but perhaps that's more due to subject matter (seems to be a lot of Biblical stuff here) than style. I think this best poems really showcase Gluck's strengths: truth-telling in its most stripped- ...more
Apr 11, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: poetry
In this collection, broken into three part, the poet explores many themes familiar to the reader from her three previous collections.

Here, as in her previous collections, the poet writes about death. The best of these poems about death are found in "The End of the World" cycle. The title, the poet explains, does not refer the a literal end of the world but to a personal end of the world - that is, death...

How short it seemed, that lifetime of waiting -
this red star blazing over the bay
was all
Oct 27, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry
Stunning poetry. My faves were 'Liberation', 'Baskets' and 'Marathon'. Favourite lines: 'Only victims have a destiny' (Liberation), 'But nakedness in women is always a pose./I was not transfigured. I would never be free' (Marathon, 1.) and 'I am not a strong woman. It isn't easy/to want so much' (Baskets, 4.)
Courtney Johnston
May 05, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: borrowed, poetry
I've tried before with Louise Gluck and had more success; 'The Triumph of Achilles' is not the book for me. Many of Gluck's poems here are about pursuit, loss, waning feelings. They glance, they sidle up: when they do state, they still leave me confused.

Often I find the assemblies of words rather beautiful, but also tilting from side to side, from oblique to cliche:


All day I tried to distinguish
need from desire. Now, in the dark,
I feel only bitter sadness for us,
the builders, the planers of
Nov 13, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: library
I hope I'm able to explain myself correctly, but this was such a strange reading experience! I have never had a list of Favorite-Poems-To-Come-Out-of-One-(1)-Poetry-Collection be this long (so many were! incredible! right on the nose!), yet, as a collection? As a whole? I didn't love this. It wasn't until the ante-penultimate poem that I realized that this book wasn't as chock-full of images as I expected. I really, really, really love images in poems, and this book was undoubtedly full of "pass ...more
Jun 22, 2019 rated it liked it
A few years ago, a friend recommended Louise Gluck's "Poems: 1962 - 2012." One of the memorable poems in there was the first poem in this book: Mock Orange.

There are some great poems here, and a number that I did not care for. Somewhat standard I think.

Today, I carried the book with me as I took public transportation to an anti-war on Iran demonstration. When I got to the demo, someone right away noticed and complimented me on reading Louise Gluck. You meet the best folks at anti-war demonstrati
Dec 16, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: louise-gluck, poetry
I have to tell you what I’ve learned, that I know now
what happens to the dreamers.
They don’t feel it when they change. One day
they wake, they dress, they are old.
If once you could have saved yourself,
now that time’s past: you were obstinate, pathetically
blind to change. Now you have nothing:
Why love what you will lose?
There is nothing else to love.
Feb 12, 2020 rated it really liked it
Last night in bed your
hand fell heavily upon
my shoulder. I thought

you slept. Yet we are
parted. Perhaps the sheet moved
given your hand's weight by

the dampness of
my body. Morning: I have
written to thank you.

[From the Japanese]
Mar 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry
I have to tell you what I’ve learned, that I know now
what happens to the dreamers.
They don’t feel it when they change. One day
they wake, they dress, they are old.
Nov 16, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry
Will probably continue reading this a bit. This is the first Louise Glück book I've read. I think I can learn a lot from it, the poems individually and how the book is put together. I don't have much objective or profound to say at this point, having read through the poems only once.
Mar 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing
“my fear enchanted him
so that he ran more quickly”

May 10, 2019 rated it really liked it
Louise Glück’s The Triumph of Achilles is a very somber collection, detailing loss, love and melancholic reflection within its poetry. This variant of topics keeps the reader intrigued throughout the collection. There is also Glück’s tone which is somewhat dejected in each piece, yet not in a way that spurs the reader from its prose. Combing all this with Glück’s easy to read structure draws in the reader for a unique experience.
Most notable of this collection is Glück’s voice. When reading her
May 04, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A couple of really beautiful poems in this collection include "4. Song of Obstacles" from "Marathon" that compares love to the movement of a glacier and "The Mountain" about a teacher trying to explain being an artist to her students through the myth of Sisyphus. Myth and legends and fables are a constant theme in nearly all the poems of this collection. Mostly Greek myth dominates, though a few Christian and Jewish stories give a rich variety. "Adult Grief" is a good representative poem in that ...more
Feb 13, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry, lyrical
“alone, watching the moon rise:
tonight, a full circle,
like a woman’s eye passing over abundance.

this is the most it will ever be.
above the blank street, the imperfections
solved by night—

like our hearts: darkness
showed us their capacity.
our full hearts—at the time, they seemed so impressive.”
from the japanese
Harold Coutts
Jan 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing
holy fuck just tbh
Sarah Berk
Feb 18, 2018 rated it did not like it
Shelves: read-in-2018
My last attempt to fall for the poetry of Louise Gluck. That's okay, I guess it's not for me.
Apr 29, 2019 rated it really liked it
Michael P.
Feb 20, 2014 rated it really liked it
I do get tired of reading about how terrible sex is for Glück, and how horrible it is to have a man in your life. Her art is such that I don't want to shout, "Shut up and do something about it," as I do with most complainers, but, honestly, that whole line is just depressing. This book, of course, begins and ends with such poems and the theme is touched on here and there in-between. There are, however, some really marvelous poetry written about and from the perspective of the Greek gods, sometim ...more
Griffin Alexander
It has its moments, and when it does they hit hard. Unfortunately, a lot of the poems are forgettable (not bad; they are all well-crafted, though classical allusion in modern poetry is one of my major turnoffs). Gave this two reads through, I'll give it another. Maybe something else will click for me.

Highlights include "Mock Orange" and the series about Glück's father's death "Metamorphosis" (which has the most emotionally startling metaphor of a parent-child relationship I have read in a long t
Stephanie Ricker
Aug 10, 2008 rated it it was ok
Shelves: poetry
She's a very good poet who definitely has a knack for creating detailed images with just a few words. At the same time, I don't think I liked her poetry. She *could* write beautiful poetry, but she just...doesn't. Instead, some of her stuff is well-written poetry that is vaguely ugly if you look at it too long, and the rest could be good if she put the energy into her potentially-beautiful poems that she does into her slightly ugly ones. I kind of wonder if maybe her more recent poems are better ...more
Edmund Davis-Quinn
Jul 31, 2012 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Poetry fans, fans of verse
Shelves: library, poetry
Beautiful book of poetry I flew through.

I love Gluck's style.

Part of "The First Four Books of Poetry" by Louise Gluck I checked out of the library. Liking "Achilles" easily the best.

It is interesting to see how much a great poet grows in 17 years.

One paragraph of her poem "Legend" explains why I like Gluck so much:

"Though the great soul is said to be
a star, a beacon,
what it resembles better is a diamond:
in the whole world there is nothing
hard enough to change it."

Great stuff.
May 26, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Still not quite as hard-hitting and evocative for me as some of her other work, but I really enjoyed all the imagery from classical mythology, the straining love, the difficulty of living, etc etc etc.
Aug 28, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry, w
By far the best and most interesting of LG's first four books. Some of these are excellent. The poems cover a broad range of topics but a cleverly narrow range of themes. I enjoyed it very much.
Dec 25, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: on-my-shelf
This book is quiet and surprising, and I warmed more to the poems as I moved further into the book, and with the (often necessary) rereading of poems.
May 21, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry
Favorites: "Brooding Likeness"; "Marathon"
Artūrs Lūsis
Sep 04, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: best
yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes............ omfg, yes.
Aug 15, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Anybody who is interested in Louise Gluck work should read this
Jun 24, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: own, poetry
Highlights: "Mock Orange," "Mythic Fragment," "The Triumph of Achilles," "The Embrace," "The Reproach"

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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

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