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Vita Nova

3.94  ·  Rating details ·  759 ratings  ·  51 reviews
Since, 1990, Louise Glück has been exploring a form that is, according to poet Robert Hass, her invention. Vita Nova -- like its immediate predecessors, a book-length sequence -- combines the ecstatic utterance of The Wild Iris with the worldly dramas elaborated in Meadowlands. Vita Nova is a book that exists in the long moment of spring, a book of deaths and beginnings, r ...more
Paperback, 64 pages
Published March 6th 2001 by Ecco (first published 1999)
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My first collection from the prolific Pulitzer winner. Some of the poems are built around self-interrogation, with a question and answer format; several reflect on the myth of Orpheus and Eurydice. The first and last poems are both entitled “Vita Nova,” while another in the middle is called “The New Life.” I enjoyed the language of spring in the first “Vita Nova” and in “The Nest,” but I was unconvinced by much of what Glück writes about love and self-knowledge, some of it very clichéd indeed, e ...more
Apr 16, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry
In Vita Nova, Louise Glück returns to her most common themes: Love and Death...
Surely spring has been returned to me, this time
not as a lover but a messenger of death, yet
it is still spring, it is still meant tenderly.
- Vita Nova I (pg. 2)

Brutal to love,
more brutal to die.
And brutal beyond the reaches of justice
to die of love.
- The Queen of Carthage (pg. 5)

I was afraid of love, of being taken away.
Everyone afraid of love is afraid of death.
- Timor Mortis (pg. 15)

Throughout th
Courtney Johnston
Surely spring has been returned to me, this time
not as a lover but a messenger of death, yet
it is still spring, it is meant tenderly.

A slim little book that circles around death, and loss, particularly women loved and forsaken or lost: the voice of the poet herself (presumably), mixed with that of Eurydice, Dido, Penelope, and the men that left them; Aeneas who has enough love already in the very blood that runs in his veins; Orpheus (I have lost my Eurydice, / I have lost my lover, / and sudden
Sep 15, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry
It’s interesting to read this post-MFA. Gluck is likely one of my biggest influences to study poetry. I read her in college and was absolutely hypnotized. I would have given anything to have written those poems. Now, ten years post grad school and five books later, I re-read it to see how I’d feel. Many poems still spoke deeply to me in all their haunting sparseness, in their isolating world of doom and wonder. And yet, I feel like if I were to write like this, I’d be treated like a joke. She us ...more
Aug 04, 2009 rated it really liked it
On the hierarchy of her own work, I'd put this collection between "The Wild Iris" and "Seven Ages." Not quite her best, but not my least favorite either. Moments of utter brilliance. Moments that felt a little more stagey. Also, an unexpected humor in parts that felt wry after so much of Gluck's trademark intensity: from "Condo:" "...I hate / When your own dreams treat you as stupid," from "Mutable Earth:" "In the bathtub, I examine my body / We're supposed to do that." Noticed the constant upwa ...more
Jan 05, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: louise-gluck, poetry
My soul dried up.
Like a soul cast into fire, but not completely,
not to annihilation. Parched,
it continued. Brittle,
not from solitude but from mistrust,
how will you ever again believe
the love of another being?
We are all human—
we protect ourselves
as well as we can
even to the point of denying
clarity, the point
of self-deception.
And yet, within this deception,
true happiness occurred.
So that I believe I would
repeat these errors exactly.
Nor does it seem to me
crucial to know
whether or not such
Dec 15, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Everyone
This is my favorite Gluck book of those I've read (not nearly all). I don't know what my favorite is among those I have not read yet. I love the fun she has with the lyric tradition. People so often misread her as this uber-sincere, confessional writer, when I think she actually skewers the personal lyric tradition more cogently and hilariously than so many avant-garde poets (who tend to be much more ham-fisted in their attacks). The way she gets herself out of this collection (the final poem) i ...more
Oct 08, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry, favorites
louise gluck completely has my heart. i love this collection so much that i just want to carry it with me forever.
May 24, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A poetry cycle about the end of a relationship, spring, Orpheus and Eurydice... You can feel the numbness and the sorrow, some great poems, I especially loved The Mystery. Not a huge fan of poetry that references ancient myth tbh, but am defo a fan of Glück.
Gluck is probably my spiritual poetic mentor, of sorts. It is only in her work that I am able to feel both light and heavy, empowered and overwhelmed, all at once. And, given the over-saturation of mythology and Classics in poetry (at least it feels that way for me), she is the only poet who rekindles my connection with Dido and Eurydice, figures who are worth admiring and connecting to, and who become fleshed out and alive through her words.
Oct 17, 2009 rated it it was ok
This line hurt me: "You changed me, you should remember me." The poem "Unwritten Law," although nothing super-duper-fresh or astonishingly original, also struck a chord with me.

Gluck is a master of colloquial language and the stream-of-consciousness mode. Her lines dance nimbly, very nimbly, between loosely connected thoughts; she skates with ease between past and present, dream and reality, inner life and outer life, all while maintaining an appealing comprehensibility/accessibility. (By the wa
Apr 28, 2008 rated it really liked it
This was suggested to me when I asked for books and poetry about breakups that honored the former sweetheart as well as the process of getting over the end of a very good relationship.

This books filled that bill, but not the way I really expected it to. The poems focused on the first person, and the narrator's journey, both inner and outer. This is a book that'll bear re-reading. All the poems spoke to me, but I couldn't always make out the message.
Aug 02, 2007 rated it it was amazing
title poem from this collection is amaaaaazing
Adra Cole Benjamin
Feb 19, 2008 rated it it was amazing
This is one book of poetry I will never, ever ever depart with. I love it so much!
Sep 18, 2013 rated it really liked it
I like rereading Gluck.
Jul 03, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry
Need to reread this before I make any decisions about how I feel about this. Obviously not as good as The Wild Iris, but still good.
May 10, 2019 rated it really liked it
it seems i cannot read a louise glück collection without having a notepad by my side ready to take notes. isn't that the right sign for you to realise you have found a new darling author?

it must be commended how in both this collection and Averno, glück seems to give the clearest hint of what the over-arching story will be about. there's no reason for her to confuse her readers, what would be the purpose then if they can't see your point as clearly as you have devised it? in that way, glück begi
May 05, 2020 rated it really liked it
Two possible opening quotes:

”…No sadness
is greater than in misery to rehearse
memories of joy….”

Ask her if she regrets anything.

I was promised to another--
I lived with someone.
You forget these things when you’re touched.

The Burning Heart

Eurydice went back to hell.
What was difficult
was the travel, which,
on arrival, is forgotten.

is difficult.
And moving between two worlds
especially so;
the tension is very great.


Louise Gluck’s short collection Vita Nova is a treatise on forging a new
Aug 20, 2019 rated it did not like it
Shelves: goodbye
Glück's reputation precedes her poetry. I'm pretty sure I became familiar with her name through reading The Best American Poetry series. Among her many achievements, she's a U.S. Poet Laureate and Pulitzer Prize winner. My expectations were high.

Vita Nova is disappointing. The poems are about time, aging, and death; the soul, past lives, and dreams; fire; love. Glück's style is unremarkable. It's too straightforward and lacking in imagery. She mainly relies on allusions (to Greek and Roman myth
Konstantin R.
May 23, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: poetry
[rating = B-]
Having heard of Louise Gluck from New Yorker review of her latest poetry collection, I decided that I needed to read her. I found this book to be in the postmodern genre, although it was not as vague as some other collections that I had read. Gluck's poems are about loss and love and try to find the words to confirm existence. Often, she will use a question-and-answer format, where a line asks a question (usually repeating the same one twice) and the next line will vaguely try to an
Feb 29, 2020 rated it really liked it
this book is a tender italian spring

“i dreamed i was kidnapped. that means
i knew what love was,
how it places the soul in jeopardy.
i knew. i substituted my body.

but you were hostage?

i was afraid of love, of being taken away.
everyone afraid of love is afraid of death.

i pretended indifference
even in the presence of love, in the presence of hunger.
and the more deeply i felt
the less able i was to respond.

do you remember your childhood?

i understood that the magnitude of these gifts
was balance
Aug 09, 2018 rated it did not like it
Shelves: poetry
A conversation to herself filled with rambling melancholy, grief, and bitterness. Invocations of Orpheus and colorless recollection of her dreams. I tried to find a single poem that I like, but I couldn't.

Reading it felt like I would be swallowed by her own emotions, but at the same time it left me completely distant, tired of the too much of her rambling. It is rare that I feel so pushed back by a collection of poetry, but this one did have this strong effect on me.
Jan 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I've been reading books of poems as they were originally published, rather than in selected/collected works or anthologies. Really glad I did with this because these poems are meant to be read together and in order.

It's been said a million times, but I'm amazed at what Glück can do with simple words.
Sep 11, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry
Vita Nova is a book of aging, and a book of newness; the possibilities of new endeavors and generativity late in life, after loss, after brokenness. In the end, after winter, comes spring, once again, completely unexpected.
May 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I really like how it makes you think twice about what your really reading.
May 27, 2017 rated it really liked it
One line will stay with me. Does it have to happen in the world to be real?
Oct 14, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry
"You saved me, you should remember me."
Aug 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Bravo! again to this Pulitzer Prize-winning poet.
Sep 02, 2009 rated it it was ok
Different form/content from her other books that I've read--several poems use a question/answer format, and dreams and abstraction strike me as her new themes.

Interesting epigram--"The master said you must write what you see / But what I see does not move me / The master answered Change what you see." I'm wondering if her restlessness with her typical subjects (as alluded to by this epigram) is what prompted the focus on more abstract content and more interior content (dreams).

An intensely unhap
alyssa carver
Feb 27, 2007 rated it liked it
having just reread all of my gluck collection, i understand now why this one is my least favorite of her volumes although it contains several of my favorite poems. partly, it is the language. there is much of her famous stiffness here, and lines that should feel profound are forced, begin to feel like platitude. i believe now that stiffness is due to this work being her most anguished. in truth i do not understand this whole collection, what exactly is holding it together, and my favorite poems ...more
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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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“The master said You must write what you see.
But what I see does not move me.
The master answered Change what you see.
“I thought my life was over and my heart was broken.

Then I moved to Cambridge.”
More quotes…