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Vita Nova

3.92  ·  Rating details ·  1,175 ratings  ·  115 reviews
Winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature

In Vita Nova, Pulitzer-Prize winning poet Louise Glück manages the apparently impossible: a terrifying act of perspective that brings into resolution the smallest human hope and the vast forces that shape and thwart it

Since Ararat in 1990, Louise Glück has been exploring a form that is, according to the poet, Robert Hass, her inventio
Paperback, 64 pages
Published March 6th 2001 by Ecco (first published 1999)
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Average rating 3.92  · 
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 ·  1,175 ratings  ·  115 reviews

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Feb 08, 2022 rated it liked it
Shelves: poetry
Ethereal, dreamlike, dealing with separation (being written after the divorce in 1996 of her husband), Eurydice and Orpheus and the relation of mind to the world come back often.
The world
was whole because
it shattered. When it shattered,
then we knew what it was.

- Formaggio

This eighth bundle of Louise Glück puts the focus on rebirth. From a Roman, trying to capture some of the spark of the Greek to a lot of references to Euridyce and Orpheus, Vita Nova is filled with not just references to the cla
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
Steven Godin
Oct 04, 2020 rated it liked it

No one wants to be the muse;
in the end, everybody wants to be Orpheus.

Valiantly reconstructed
(out of terror and pain)
and then overwhelmingly beautiful;

restoring, ultimately,
not Eurydice, the lamented one,
but the ardent
spirit of Orpheus, made present

not as a human being, rather
as pure soul rendered
detached, immortal,
through deflected narcissism.

I made a harp of disaster
to perpetuate the beauty of my last love.
Yet my anguish, such as it is,
remains the struggle for form

and my dreams, if I speak o
Adriana Scarpin
Oct 16, 2020 rated it really liked it
The Winged Horse

It's ten years ago today you turned me out the door
To cut my feet on flinty lands and stumble down the shore
And I thought about the all in all, Oh more than I could tell
But I caught a horse to ride upon and I rode him very well
He had flame behind the eyes of him and wings upon his side
And I ride and I ride!

I rode him out of Wantage End, I rode him up the hill
And there I saw the beacon in the morning standing still
Inkpen and Hagpen and southward and away
High through the middle air
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
Gumble's Yard - Golden Reviewer
This is the eighth collection by the 2020 Nobel Laureate – one that has some merit but is far from her strongest (not least lacking some depth and simply length).

The collection has at its heart, a narrator starting something of a new life after the end of their marriage. At the start of the book, in the first of the two titular poems that bookend the collection, she is taken back to her childhood and realises that the end of her marriage for all its tragedy gives her the same sense of possibilit
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
Dec 30, 2021 rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry, usta
4.5. 'Vita Nova' is one of the Glück collections I am least familiar with, but this read was really wonderful and has inspired me to grow more intimate with it.

Nova makes up for the failings (of which there are many) of Meadowlands and sets Glück's poetry back on track in the aftermath of Wild Iris. These poems are deeply personal, but in a less bleak way. In fact, many of these poems are Glück's happiest and, for that reason, some of the most moving.

Her struggles are there: A divorce. Dead pare
Jocelyn Chin
May 22, 2022 rated it really liked it
a very light read but required patient concentration (bc glück is way more educated/eloquent than me)

themes i enjoyed:
- time (passing) (childhood/age)
- waking (up from sleep)
- italy (subtle)
- motif: orpheus & eurydice = her divorce (tip for reading poetry: research poet’s personal life)
- other greek allusion e.g. Dido queen of carthage (rip!)

themes i am not sure if i enjoyed:
- repetition of questions
- hunger / fire (too subtle)

2 lines i liked (better read within the context of the poem):
- “but t
Keith Taylor
Aug 07, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Since before she received the Nobel, I've been slowly going (back) through my Gluck books. Ever since I first heard her read (in 1979 or 1980) I've expected a certain tone from Gluck -- deeply introspective, very sad, despairing even. And always looking to find ways in myth and history to help her understand herself. Even after the exuberance and joy in "Wild Iris," I still expected the darkness.

But this book was revelatory for it's success at defining something new. Sure, she uses Orpheus and E
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
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.
It was pretty neat to read the Latin title, Vita Nova, and immediately know that it meant “New Life” thanks to having read Giambattista Vico and some Carolingian biographies over the past year. It was even neater to read the poem, “Vita Nova,” and get hurled into another metaphysical masterpiece from Louise Glück. The motific structure in Vita Nova is nothing unfamiliar relevant to Glück’s 1990s poetry collections yet it remains as powerful as ever; I believe it may even be her artistic apex up ...more
Eugenea Pollock
Jan 21, 2021 rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry
So few pages, so much substance. This collection examines the lessons of the natural world in poems like “Nest” in which a tiny bird weaves its shelter, one twig at a time, from whatever can be found. “It had its task:/to imagine the future.” And therein, there is comfort and encouragement for the poet; “Ellsworth Avenue” continues in this vein.

However, another theme is the searing pain of grief as addressed in poems like “Inferno” and “Lament.” The latter is particularly evocative: “Where will
Flavio Güell
Oct 21, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"And deep serenity flooded through me,
such as you feel when the world can’t touch you.
Beyond the invisible bed, light
of late summer in the little street,
between flickering ash trees.
Which the dream changed, adding, you could say,
a dimension of hope. It was
a beautiful dream, my life was small and sweet, the world
broadly visible because remote.

The dream showed me how to have it again
by being safe from it. It showed me
sleeping in my old bed, first stars
shining through bare ash trees."
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.
Dec 22, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This is a collection of poetry that warrants several re-reads, each one bringing new things to the reader's eyes and ears. Truly wonderful. ...more
Sally Boots
Jan 18, 2021 rated it liked it
This book got better after my reading group discussed it. Still, though, there's not enough concrete detail for my taste, and it felt deliberately vague and repetitious. ...more
Jan 17, 2022 rated it really liked it
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
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
Demi-Louise Blackburn
Mar 01, 2021 rated it liked it
Shelves: reviewed
3 stars.

Poetry collections I find difficult to review, as many do, I imagine. This was by no means a bad collection, far from it, but did not quite strike a chord with me as other poets have. I am tempted to pick up something else by Glück in the future, however.

A few of these were forgettable for me, or blurred, and I can’t particularly recall many that really hit me in the way others have before. But that doesn’t detract from the fact that there was plenty I did enjoy and resonate with, in som
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
Shelves: literature, poetry
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
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Louise Elisabeth Glück was born in New York City of Hungarian Jewish heritage and grew up on Long Island. She attended Sarah Lawrence College and later Columbia University.

She 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 Awa

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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.”
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