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This article is taken from PN Review 210, Volume 39 Number 4, March - April 2013.

Indelible Voice: Louise Glück, Poems 1962-2012 Reena Sastri
LOUISE GLÜCK, Poems 1962-2012 (Farrar, Straus and Giroux) $40

Biographical accuracy aside - 'Poems are autobiography,' Louise Glück concedes, 'but divested' of 'chronology and comment', 'anecdote', 'personal conviction' (Proofs 92) - we might find in a vignette of a child's sleepless night, from 2001's The Seven Ages, an image of the future poet:

I turned the light on, to wake my sister.
I wanted my parents awake and vigilant, I wanted them
to stop lying. But nobody woke. I sat up
reading my Greek myths in the nightlight.
                                                                                   (433)

The defining presence of the family, the severity of the child's desire for illumination, her refuge, or adventure, in the world of Greek myth, suggest a watchful intelligence and an imagination drawn to the elemental within the domestic. If we can take this as a picture of how Louise Glück began, however, one of the great satisfactions this book offers is the chance to see how her work, remaining true to this intensity, has enlarged its vision to embrace stances humorous, sociable, generous, and even forgiving. These lines' simplicity of diction and syntax proves, across the poems collected here, capable of an astonishing variety and command. And the wariness of the nightlit seeker after cold truth comes to coexist with her trust in the enchantment of the words she reads and those she may write. Unsparing in its dissection of human weaknesses and vulnerabilities, Glück's poetry is equally unswerving in ...


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