Puget Sound English Department

April 6, 2010

Louise Glück, “Vespers”

Professor Alison Tracy Hale says, “I could pick any one of many of Louise Glück’s (b. 1943; U.S. Poet Laureate 2003) poems; I love how they move almost imperceptibly from the prosaic to the poetic, in ways that suggest simultaneously the distance between–and the proximity of–the two realms. Just for today, I chose ‘Vespers’ because it addresses the unyielding and not always beneficent presence of divinity, and because it ends with a fierce assertion, nonetheless, of human responsibility.”

… All this
belongs to you: on the other hand,
I planted the seeds, I watched the first shoots
like wings tearing the soil, and it was my heart
broken by the blight, the black spot so quickly
multiplying in the rows. I doubt
you have a heart, in our understanding of
that term. You who do not discriminate
between the dead and the living, who are, in consequence,
immune to foreshadowing, you may not know
how much terror we bear, the spotted leaf,
the red leaves of the maple falling
even in August, in early darkness: I am responsible
for these vines.
(You can find the whole poem here at Poets.org)