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This review is taken from PN Review 110, Volume 22 Number 6, July - August 1996.

IN TIME AND IN PARADISE LOUISE GLÜCK, The Wild Iris (Carcanet) £8.95

Once I knew a remarkable woman who identified herself as an 'horticultural therapist'. She worked, with a good deal of success, in a residential program for schizophrenics. Her method was to bring the patients into the garden and help them transform plots of earth. The garden is so central a figure -the ground of our being - that is built into the language itself. Consider, for instance, the gardener's verbs: to dig, to delve, to get at the root, to weed out, to nurture, to grow, to harvest. 'I am the gardener, my friend used to encourage her clients to say, 'and I am the garden, and I am what is being grown.' The garden is, perhaps, the first metaphor: there lie the roots of know1edge and death, of good and evil. There we harvest and are harvested, bear and are born. My friend's work succeeded when more conventional therapies failed because of her ability to connect the troubled people with whom she worked to the elemental. Tending the garden, we tend to ourselves.

Louise Glück's new book, The Wild Iris -the sixth collection by this former Fine Arts Work Center fellow - takes place within a garden. A literal one, but, as Robert Harbison has written in his remarkable book, Eccentric Spaces. 'Every garden is a replica, a representation.' Gardens reveal to us the gardener's notion of the world. A garden is a location of control, an artificial paradise - but, as anyone who's planted a ...


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