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Best Famous Louise Gluck Poems

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by Louise Gluck | |

Confession

 waiting for death
like a cat
that will jump on the
bed

I am so very sorry for
my wife

she will see this
stiff
white 
body
shake it once, then
maybe
again

"Hank!"

Hank won't
answer.
it's not my death that worries me, it's my wife left with this pile of nothing.
I want to let her know though that all the nights sleeping beside her even the useless arguments were things ever splendid and the hard words I ever feared to say can now be said: I love you.


by Louise Gluck | |

Snowdrops

 Do you know what I was, how I lived? You know
what despair is; then
winter should have meaning for you.
I did not expect to survive, earth suppressing me.
I didn't expect to waken again, to feel in damp earth my body able to respond again, remembering after so long how to open again in the cold light of earliest spring-- afraid, yes, but among you again crying yes risk joy in the raw wind of the new world.


by Louise Gluck | |

Happiness

 A man and a woman lie on a white bed.
It is morning.
I think Soon they will waken.
On the bedside table is a vase of lilies; sunlight pools in their throats.
I watch him turn to her as though to speak her name but silently, deep in her mouth-- At the window ledge, once, twice, a bird calls.
And then she stirs; her body fills with his breath.
I open my eyes; you are watching me.
Almost over this room the sun is gliding.
Look at your face, you say, holding your own close to me to make a mirror.
How calm you are.
And the burning wheel passes gently over us.


More great poems below...

by Louise Gluck | |

All Hallows

 Even now this landscape is assembling.
The hills darken.
The oxen Sleep in their blue yoke, The fields having been Picked clean, the sheaves Bound evenly and piled at the roadside Among cinquefoil, as the toothed moon rises: This is the barrenness Of harvest or pestilence And the wife leaning out the window With her hand extended, as in payment, And the seeds Distinct, gold, calling Come here Come here, little one And the soul creeps out of the tree.


by Louise Gluck | |

Circes Power

 I never turned anyone into a pig.
Some people are pigs; I make them Look like pigs.
I'm sick of your world That lets the outside disguise the inside.
Your men weren't bad men; Undisciplined life Did that to them.
As pigs, Under the care of Me and my ladies, they Sweetened right up.
Then I reversed the spell, showing you my goodness As well as my power.
I saw We could be happy here, As men and women are When their needs are simple.
In the same breath, I foresaw your departure, Your men with my help braving The crying and pounding sea.
You think A few tears upset me? My friend, Every sorceress is A pragmatist at heart; nobody sees essence who can't Face limitation.
If I wanted only to hold you I could hold you prisoner.


by Louise Gluck | |

The Pond

 Night covers the pond with its wing.
Under the ringed moon I can make out your face swimming among minnows and the small echoing stars.
In the night air the surface of the pond is metal.
Within, your eyes are open.
They contain a memory I recognize, as though we had been children together.
Our ponies grazed on the hill, they were gray with white markings.
Now they graze with the dead who wait like children under their granite breastplates, lucid and helpless: The hills are far away.
They rise up blacker than childhood.
What do you think of, lying so quietly by the water? When you look that way I want to touch you, but do not, seeing as in another life we were of the same blood.


by Louise Gluck | |

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.


by Louise Gluck | |

Confession

 To say I'm without fear--
It wouldn't be true.
I'm afraid of sickness, humiliation.
Like anyone, I have my dreams.
But I've learned to hide them, To protect myself From fulfillment: all happiness Attracts the Fates' anger.
They are sisters, savages-- In the end they have No emotion but envy.


by Louise Gluck | |

Circes Torment

 I regret bitterly
The years of loving you in both
Your presence and absence, regret
The law, the vocation
That forbid me to keep you, the sea
A sheet of glass, the sun-bleached
Beauty of the Greek ships: how
Could I have power if
I had no wish
To transform you: as
You loved my body,
As you found there
Passion we held above
All other gifts, in that single moment
Over honor and hope, over
Loyalty, in the name of that bond
I refuse you
Such feeling for your wife
As will let you
Rest with her, I refuse you
Sleep again
If I cannot have you.


by Louise Gluck | |

Early Darkness

 How can you say
earth should give me joy? Each thing
born is my burden; I cannot succeed
with all of you.
And you would like to dictate to me, you would like to tell me who among you is most valuable, who most resembles me.
And you hold up as an example the pure life, the detachment you struggle to acheive-- How can you understand me when you cannot understand yourselves? Your memory is not powerful enough, it will not reach back far enough-- Never forget you are my children.
You are not suffering because you touched each other but because you were born, because you required life separate from me.


by Louise Gluck | |

The Triumph Of Achilles

 In the story of Patroclus
no one survives, not even Achilles
who was nearly a god.
Patroclus resembled him; they wore the same armor.
Always in these friendships one serves the other, one is less than the other: the hierarchy is always apparant, though the legends cannot be trusted-- their source is the survivor, the one who has been abandoned.
What were the Greek ships on fire compared to this loss? 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.


by Louise Gluck | |

The Wild Iris

 At the end of my suffering
there was a door.
Hear me out: that which you call death I remember.
Overhead, noises, branches of the pine shifting.
Then nothing.
The weak sun flickered over the dry surface.
It is terrible to survive as consciousness buried in the dark earth.
Then it was over: that which you fear, being a soul and unable to speak, ending abruptly, the stiff earth bending a little.
And what I took to be birds darting in low shrubs.
You who do not remember passage from the other world I tell you I could speak again: whatever returns from oblivion returns to find a voice: from the center of my life came a great fountain, deep blue shadows on azure seawater.


by Louise Gluck | |

Lullaby

 Softly lie down
and close your eyes so blue
worry no more
for tonight I'll watch over you

Gently rest your head
against my soothing chest
for here in my arms
you've found a safe place to rest

Sleep sweet child
in peaceful undisturbed dreams
and don't awake
until the morning beams


June 25, 2006
©2006 Fenny


by Louise Gluck | |

Lullaby

 It is a summer evening.
The yellow moths sag against the locked screens and the faded curtains suck over the window sills and from another building a goat calls in his dreams.
This is the TV parlor in the best ward at Bedlam.
The night nurse is passing out the evening pills.
She walks on two erasers, padding by us one by one.
MY sleeping pill is white.
It is a splendid pearl; it floats me out of myself, my stung skin as alien as a loose bolt of cloth.
I will ignore the bed.
I am linen on a shelf.
Let the others moan in secret; let each lost butterfly go home.
Old woolen head, take me like a yellow moth while the goat calls hush- a-bye.


by Louise Gluck | |

Lullaby

 Now the day is done, 
Now the shepherd sun 
Drives his white flocks from the sky; 
Now the flowers rest 
On their mother's breast, 
Hushed by her low lullaby.
Now the glowworms glance, Now the fireflies dance, Under fern-boughs green and high; And the western breeze To the forest trees Chants a tuneful lullaby.
Now 'mid shadows deep Falls blessed sleep, Like dew from the summer sky; And the whole earth dreams, In the moon's soft beams, While night breathes a lullaby.
Now, birdlings, rest, In your wind-rocked nest, Unscared by the owl's shrill cry; For with folded wings Little Brier swings, And singeth your lullaby.


by Louise Gluck | |

The Fear Of Burial

 In the empty field, in the morning,
the body waits to be claimed.
The spirit sits beside it, on a small rock-- nothing comes to give it form again.
Think of the body's loneliness.
At night pacing the sheared field, its shadow buckled tightly around.
Such a long journey.
And already the remote, trembling lights of the village not pausing for it as they scan the rows.
How far away they seem, the wooden doors, the bread and milk laid like weights on the table.


by Louise Gluck | |

Labor Day

 Requiring something lovely on his arm
Took me to Stamford, Connecticut, a quasi-farm,
His family's; later picking up the mammoth
Girlfriend of Charlie, meanwhile trying to pawn me off
On some third guy also up for the weekend.
But Saturday we still were paired; spent It sprawled across that sprawling acreage Until the grass grew limp with damp.
Like me.
Johnston-baby, I can still see The pelted clover, burrs' prickle fur and gorged Pastures spewing infinite tiny bells.
You pimp.


by Louise Gluck | |

The Garden

 En robe de parade.
Samain Like a skien of loose silk blown against a wall She walks by the railing of a path in Kensington Gardens, And she is dying piece-meal of a sort of emotional anaemia.
And round about there is a rabble Of the filthy, sturdy, unkillable infants of the very poor.
They shall inherit the earth.
In her is the end of breeding.
Her boredom is exquisite and excessive.
She would like some one to speak to her, And is almost afraid that I will commit that indiscretion.


by Louise Gluck | |

Lullaby

 Sleep, pretty lady, the night is enfolding you;
Drift, and so lightly, on crystalline streams.
Wrapped in its perfumes, the darkness is holding you; Starlight bespangles the way of your dreams.
Chorus the nightingales, wistfully amorous; Blessedly quiet, the blare of the day.
All the sweet hours may your visions be glamorous- Sleep, pretty lady, as long as you may.
Sleep, pretty lady, the night shall be still for you; Silvered and silent, it watches you rest.
Each little breeze, in its eagerness, will for you Murmur the melodies ancient and blest.
So in the midnight does happiness capture us; Morning is dim with another day's tears.
Give yourself sweetly to images rapturous- Sleep, pretty lady, a couple of years.
Sleep, pretty lady, the world awaits day with you; Girlish and golden, the slender young moon.
Grant the fond darkness its mystical way with you; Morning returns to us ever too soon.
Roses unfold, in their loveliness, all for you; Blossom the lilies for hope of your glance.
When you're awake, all the men go and fall for you- Sleep, pretty lady, and give me a chance.


by Louise Gluck | |

Midnight

 The stars are soft as flowers, and as near;
The hills are webs of shadow, slowly spun;
No separate leaf or single blade is here-
All blend to one.
No moonbeam cuts the air; a sapphire light Rolls lazily.
and slips again to rest.
There is no edged thing in all this night, Save in my breast.


by Louise Gluck | |

The Garden

 She is coming, my own, my sweet;
Were it ever so airy a tread,
My heart would hear her and beat,
Were it earth in an earthy bed;
My dust would hear her and beat,
Had I lain for a century dead,
Would start and tremble under her feet,
And blossom in purple and red.


by Louise Gluck | |

Poem

 This poem is not addressed to you.
You may come into it briefly, But no one will find you here, no one.
You will have changed before the poem will.
Even while you sit there, unmovable, You have begun to vanish.
And it does no matter.
The poem will go on without you.
It has the spurious glamor of certain voids.
It is not sad, really, only empty.
Once perhaps it was sad, no one knows why.
It prefers to remember nothing.
Nostalgias were peeled from it long ago.
Your type of beauty has no place here.
Night is the sky over this poem.
It is too black for stars.
And do not look for any illumination.
You neither can nor should understand what it means.
Listen, it comes with out guitar, Neither in rags nor any purple fashion.
And there is nothing in it to comfort you.
Close your eyes, yawn.
It will be over soon.
You will forge the poem, but not before It has forgotten you.
And it does not matter.
It has been most beautiful in its erasures.
O bleached mirrors! Oceans of the drowned! Nor is one silence equal to another.
And it does not matter what you think.
This poem is not addressed to you.


by Louise Gluck | |

happiness

  for kelly

happiness is the stuff of birthdays
and the coming of sweet things
when they are not expected

happiness is when the moment
catches the sunlight and a giggle
comes out of darkness to take a look

happiness is when the body
rhymes with the heart and the whole
self flows like a mountain stream

happiness is when mischief
dances like stars in the fingers
and adults are nowhere in sight

happiness has its own clock
it comes in short ticks - then
it tocks where no one can find it


by Louise Gluck | |

confession

 for all my country poses
my cells belong to a town
grass is symbol-deep in me
but brick dips deeper down

mountains knock me sideways
a moor chills my bones
a field of wheat exults me
i'm awed by ancient stones

but lines of dowdy shop-fronts
mean unpolished streets
sever the green man in me
coddle my heart's retreats

my marrow's grey as asphalt
my brain's a shirley tram
the royal pier dreams fish for me
what southampton was - i am

i'm an ecological liar
a trickster with mother earth
dreaming grass may ravel me -
bricks nourish my birth


by Louise Gluck | |

Poem

 In the early evening, a now, as man is bending
over his writing table.
Slowly he lifts his head; a woman appears, carrying roses.
Her face floats to the surface of the mirror, marked with the green spokes of rose stems.
It is a form of suffering: then always the transparent page raised to the window until its veins emerge as words finally filled with ink.
And I am meant to understand what binds them together or to the gray house held firmly in place by dusk because I must enter their lives: it is spring, the pear tree filming with weak, white blossoms.