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4.05  ·  Rating details ·  733 Ratings  ·  56 Reviews

About the Author:
Louise Glück won the Pulitzer Prize for The Wild Iris in 1993. The author of eight books of poetry and one collection of essays, Proofs and Theories: Essays on Poetry, she has received the National Book Critics Circle Award for Poetry, the William Carlos Williams Award, and the PEN/Martha Albrand Award for Nonfiction. She was named the next U.S. poet laure

Paperback, 72 pages
Published June 21st 1992 by Ecco (first published June 1st 1992)
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Rating details
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Apr 29, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Poetry begets poetry. Or poor prose, like this. Better yet, good poetry takes you to a deeper silence. You are stirred. I found the book or it found me by happenstance, walking by my daughter's shelves. She (my daughter now grown) had plucked it from my unread pile many years ago. And I read it, to be close to her, this way. The author let me be close to the poem's narrator, in a way that was unexpectedly raw and honest. A closeness. Not love or friendship, exactly. It was like being allowed int ...more
Nov 18, 2012 rated it really liked it
I simply don't know how to assign "stars" to a volume of poetry. I read this book almost straight through, with a pounding heart. Gluck is personal, devastating, terse and focused. From "Terminal Resemblance," about the last time she saw her dying father:

"When the taxi came, my parents watched from the front door,
arm in arm, my mother blowing kisses as she always does,
because it frightens her when a hand isn't being used.
But for a change, my father didn't just stand there.
This time, he waved.
Nov 08, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: usa, poetry
Intense poetry. Less so much about landscapes like in Averno but in the immense feelings of families and loss.
Dec 24, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: louise-gluck, poetry
She knows
it isn’t possible. But it’s her only hope,
the wish to move backward.
Don’t listen to me; my heart’s been broken.
I don’t see anything objectively.
Because a wound to the heart
is also a wound to the mind.
You should only hurt
something you can give
your whole heart to.
The soul is silent.
If it speaks at all
it speaks in dreams.
That’s how language dies, because it doesn’t need to be spoken.
mwpm mwpm
Apr 16, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry
"The man who writes about himself and his own time is the only man who writes about all people and all time."
- George Bernard Shaw

Just as Shaw's man writes about all people and all time, Glück writes about all families in this personal portrait of her family. Like her previous collections, Glück's poetry is preoccupied with family and death. The poems yielded by this subject matter, however, is not what the reader may expect. She writes about death without succumbing to morbidity. She writes ab
Feb 12, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: poetry, read-in-2011
I can't seem to figure if Gluck is my cup o'tea. At times, I find her economy of language a welcome relief from the poetry I tend to read; at others, I think that trick works as a rabbit in the hat for her to rely on. Generally speaking, of the two collections I've read--this and The Wild Iris--they work, on the whole, but the poems are not, in an individual sense, particularly memorable.

This centers on the loss of a father; a renewed consciousness of the (now-widowed) mother; the difficult and
Sherry Chandler
Dec 05, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: thepoets
Letting my thoughts wander around the experience of reading Ararat, I found several equally enticing approaches to this review.

I could, for example, say I grew up in a poor county in a poor state where kids were expected to work in the fields and forgo school when there was work to be done, where the school year was kept to 8 months so the boys could help in setting, housing, and stripping the tobacco crop. Nobody had time to analyze the finer feelings of sibling rivalry, so why should I give a
Aug 01, 2016 rated it really liked it
I read an article on the Poetry Foundation website that talked about Louise Glück's guest appearance at a salon. According to the article's author, she said that everyone hated this book when she was trying to publish it, save for like, 2 people, and that her mentor, Stanley Kunitz, hated it. But she had to accept that her mentor was just wrong about it. So she published it. That level of independence and creative intuition, and the fact that Stanley Kunitz "hated" it, is so appealing to me. Lol ...more
Bryony Rose
Oct 31, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry
"I thought/ that pain meant/ I was not loved./ It meant I loved."
Jan 02, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry
Ararat was published in 1990 and Gluck has gone on to publish a number of fine collections since that I have enjoyed, and Ararat certainly belongs in the company of the best of what came after it (including The Wild Iris, 1992, Meadowlands, 1997, Vita Nova, 1999, and The Seven Ages, 2001).

Ararat examines the complex, formative nature of familial love. The verb examine is appropriate. There is something clinical but not detached, because there is an intensity about her probing, in the poems’ pre
Sep 24, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Terminal Resemblance

When I saw my father for the last time, we both did the same thing.
He was standing in the doorway to the living room,
waiting for me to get off the telephone.
That he wasn't also pointing to his watch
was a signal he wanted to talk.

Talk for us always meant the same thing.
He'd say a few words. I'd say a few back.
That was about it.

It was the end of August, very hot, very humid.
Next door, workmen dumped new gravel on the driveway.

My father and I avoided being alone;
we didn't know
Oct 17, 2014 rated it it was amazing

This is a great book - the first I have read by Louise Gluck.

It was also the only one left on the shelf at the library following her nomination for "book of the year" for "Faithful and Virtuous Night" which I will have to wait to read.

In this book - she is very honest in her experiences.

I can feel her drawing up buckets from a deep well of "loneliness" and "not enough."

She contrasts her childhood experience against that of her own as (now) a mother, and also as viewed through her perspective of
Sep 04, 2009 rated it liked it
If this were another poet, I would be more impressed. But Gluck ups her own ante, through such works as "The Wild Iris" and "Averno." This collection hit harder than "The Seven Ages," but, ultimately, lacked the complexity and ingenuity of her later work. Despite its many reversals--for example, the mother being divided instead of the baby in her re-writing of the King Solomon tale--this collection felt too straightforward. The epigraph from Plato on the origins of love greatly enhanced the coll ...more
Sep 01, 2009 rated it liked it
Very autobiographical, about her family, often about the deaths of her sister and father.

As with "Descending Figure," I enjoyed the spareness of the language in the book, as well as some interesting metaphors: her framing of new widows and new orphans as being "born" into a different life was a thought-provoking treatment of birth and death; her metaphor that her dead sister's buried body is a magnet for her mother's heart was stunning; and her complicated image of a magnifying glass and a flowe
Mar 05, 2014 rated it really liked it
Louise Gluck's book Ararat is a book of poetry about family. The most powerful of these are the poems that explore the relationship between mother and child. There are poems about the poet's relationship with her mother, her relationship with her son, and the difference in parenting styles between herself and her sister. The poems that relate to a daughter born to her mother who died in infancy are the most powerful. Not only do they address a mother's coming to terms with grief, but also the su ...more
alyssa carver
Dec 11, 2008 rated it liked it
so, it took me forever to find this volume, and i was shocked to discover i don't like it as much as i thought i would. or,at least, i don't love all of it as much as i LOVE the last poem (First Memory), which has been a longtime favorite. it's just not as sophisticated as her later works. but maybe nothing's ever that sophisticated when we are examining our childhoods, relationships with parents and siblings and so on. it's very accessible compared to some of her other books, and it's still goo ...more
Jan 09, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2013, poetry
Gluck's voice is incomparable--the way she composes a line renders both emotion and setting so vividly. This book of poems mostly comprises the shock and mourning of her father, and the self-reflection and family criticism that naturally comes from so traumatic an event. Best read in two cycles: one to read it from cover to cover, and a second to connect the last poem back to the first. I wish I understand her reference to Mt. Ararat better (actually, I often wish poetry volumes came with an aft ...more
Apr 03, 2016 rated it it was amazing

Don't listen to me; my heart's been broken.
I don't see anything objectively.

I know myself; I've learned to hear like a psychiatrist.
When I speak passionately,
that's when I'm least to be trusted.

It's very sad, really: all my life, I've been praised
for my intelligence, my powers of language, of insight.
In the end, they're wasted–

I never see myself ...

Glück's ability to write about the mundane or her own personal life, yet with a single line transform the poem into s
Tom Romig
Aug 14, 2013 rated it it was amazing
A searing family portrait in poetry. Louise Gluck comes to terms with a childhood of emotional ineptitude (her mother), absence though present (her father), and intermittent estrangement (her sister). Ms. Gluck is a prisoner of loss, a victim of separation, struggling heroically to make peace with a family of hurt. She arrives at this point:

First Memory

Long ago, I was wounded. I lived
to revenge myself
against my father, not
for what he was--
for what I was: from the beginning of time,
in childhood,
Troy VanGundy
Oct 29, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This collection tugged at chords in my heart. I nearly cried a few times over these poems' beautiful and sometimes almost brutal honesty discussing relationships, but like the central narrator I imagined in these poems, I was unable to access that part of me until the last poem, First Memory, induced me to openly weap.

"in childhood, I thought / that pain meant/ I was not loved./ It meant I loved."
Doralee Brooks
Mar 23, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This is my first encounter with Louise Gluck. I have several of her books that I plan to read chronologically. It's great, I think to experience a writer in their work over time. A New York Times reviewer said that even though some of Gluck's most compelling poems are about family, she is more Dickinson than Plath. There is a stillness in this collection that is moving, that, the simplicity of language, and the masterful handling of metaphor makes this a memorable book for me.
Aug 16, 2007 rated it really liked it
It took me a minute to catch on to how this book worked, but once I did, I thought it was great. Individually, I don't love any of the poems, and was hoping for and expecting something entirely different--but collectively, they are powerful and beautiful, with arc and flow.
May 07, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-in-2014, poetry
"Un día, eres un niño rubio y mellado;
al día siguiente un viejo que jadea en busca de aire.
Viene a ser nada, en realidad; como mucho
un instante sobre la tierra.
No una frase, sino un aliento, una cesura"
Amanda Hains
Apr 06, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry
A great collection of poetry, mainly centered around the themes of family ties, childhood, and memory.
Aug 03, 2007 added it
Poetry from Louise Gluck that moves me like I sometimes forget poetry can- poems about the pain of her growing up.
Jan 18, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: poetry
Really not her best work.
Sayantani Dasgupta
Jun 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I'm in no way qualified to rate a book of poems especially one by a Pulitzer Prize winner. All I can say is that some of these poems-- A Fantasy, A Novel, Terminal Resemblance, Labor Day, Widows, A Fable, Lost Love, Paradise--made me swallow hard and read them again bunch of times. In these poems about her childhood, memory, sisterhood, motherhood, death, and family, Gluck is terse, unforgiving, and uncompromising. The people she loves the most, just like it is with all of us, are also sometimes ...more
A beautiful, beautiful book of poetry. The kind you read more than once.
Aug 01, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry
this is worth reading for the last poem alone. it froze me.
Brian Wasserman
Mar 10, 2017 rated it did not like it
House on the Marshland has good poems, not sure why Gluck is so intent on force feeding us her personal life, Descending Figure has some good poems too, but you would think that her style would only improve, but in Triump of Achilles and Ararat we are brough back to earth grudgingly. Why are we stuck with these Freshman writing exercises? Gluck is capable of writing poems that are on the level of Rilke.
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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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“As I saw it,
all my mother's life, my father
held her down, like
lead strapped to her ankles.

She was
buoyant by nature;
she wanted to travel,
go to the theater, go to museums.
What he wanted
was to lie on the couch
with the Times
over his face,
so that death, when it came,
wouldn't seem a significant change.”
“First Memory

Long ago, I was wounded. I lived
to revenge myself
against my father, not
for what he was--
for what I was: from the beginning of time,
in childhood, I thought
that pain meant
I was not loved.
It meant I loved.”
More quotes…