Louise Glück: Vita Nova 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. (Last stanza of “Vita Nova’’) This first poem “Vita Nova,” in her book introduces the theme: loss, and hopelessness, “with the pathos of suffering” as Tony Hoagland’s complex depictions of Glück’s poetics indicate. Even in the appearance of spring, there is no happiness; it comes as a “messenger of death.” In “Unwritten Law,” we see the continuation of hopelessness and suffering; and the unhappiness of relying on the “you” of the poem. Even the speaker’s “good fortune” turns out meaningless. And yet, the mistakes of my youth made me hopeless, because they repeated themselves, as is commonly true. But in you I felt something beyond the archetype— a true expansiveness, a bouyance and love of the earth utterly alien to my nature. To my credit, I blessed my good fortune in you. Blessed it absolutely, in the manner of those years. And you in your wisdom and cruelty gradually taught me the meaninglessness of that term. Glück’s writing style is direct and unadorned. Her pacing—the control variation in the forward momentum of the poem (Dobyns 131)—is slow and deliberate. In some cases, she brings in Greek mythology as a framework to sustain her poetic voice and narrative. We see the appearances of Persephone, Eurydice, Aphrodite, Dido, and Orfeo. All of which represent some type of loss and suffering. Even Aphrodite, who was the Goddess of love and beauty suffered unhappiness due to her marriage to Hephaestus—the dour, humorless god of smithing. Glück brings all these elements together to create a poetic sequence rich in texture, along with a series of poems focused on the potential of overcoming the “Descent to the Valley,” but in the end: Works Cited Glück, Louise. Vita Nova. Hopewell, New Jersey: The Ecco Press, 1999. Dobyns, Stephen. “Pacing: The Ways a Poem Moves.” Best Words, Best...
Cited: Glück, Louise. Vita Nova. Hopewell, New Jersey: The Ecco Press, 1999. Dobyns, Stephen. “Pacing: The Ways a Poem Moves.” Best Words, Best Orders. 2nd ed. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2003. Hoagland, Tony. “Louise Glück: The Legends Cannot Be Trusted.” Real Sofistikashun: Essays on Poetry and Craft. Saint Paul, Minnesota: Graywolf Press: 2006.
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