Louise Gluck

Louise Glück was born in New York City in 1943 and grew up on Long Island. She is the author of numerous books of poetry, most recently, A Village Life: Poems (Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 2009); Averno (2006), a finalist for the 2006 National Book Award in Poetry; The Seven Ages (2001); and Vita Nova (1999), winner of Boston Book Review's Bingham Poetry Prize and The New Yorker's Book Award in Poetry. In 2004, Sarabande Books released her six-part poem "October" as a chapbook.

Her other books include Meadowlands (1996); The Wild Iris (1992), which received the Pulitzer Prize and the Poetry Society of America's William Carlos Williams Award; Ararat (1990), for which she received the Library of Congress's Rebekah Johnson Bobbitt National Prize for Poetry; and The Triumph of Achilles (1985), which received the National Book Critics Circle Award, the Boston Globe Literary Press Award, and the Poetry Society of America's Melville Kane Award.

In a review in The New Republic, the critic Helen Vendler wrote: "Louise Glück is a poet of strong and haunting presence. Her poems, published in a series of memorable books over the last twenty years, have achieved the unusual distinction of being neither "confessional" nor "intellectual" in the usual senses of those words."

She has also published a collection of essays, Proofs and Theories: Essays on Poetry (1994), which won the PEN/Martha Albrand Award for Nonfiction. Her honors include the Bollingen Prize in Poetry, the Lannan Literary Award for Poetry, a Sara Teasdale Memorial Prize, the MIT Anniversary Medal and fellowships from the Guggenheim and Rockefeller Foundations, and from the National Endowment for the Arts.

In 1999 Glück was elected a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets. In the fall of 2003, she replaced Billy Collins as the Library of Congress's twelfth Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry. In 2003, she was announced as the new judge of the Yale Series of Younger Poets.

In 2008, Glück was selected to receive the Wallace Stevens Award for mastery in the art of poetry.

Source: Poets.org: http://www.poets.org/poet.php/prmPID/82.

 

Parable of the Hostages

The Greeks are sitting on the beach
wondering what to do when the war ends. No one
wants to go home, back
to that bony island; everyone wants a little more
of what there is in Troy, more
life on the edge, that sense of every day as being
packed with surprises. But how to explain this
to the ones at home to whom
fighting a war is a plausible
excuse for absence, whereas
exploring one’s capacity for diversion
is not. Well, this can be faced
later; these
are men of action, ready to leave
insight to the women and children.
Thinking things over in the hot sun, pleased
by a new strength in their forearms, which seem
more golden than they did at home, some
begin to miss their families a little,
to miss their wives, to want to see
if the war has aged them. And a few grow
slightly uneasy: what if war
is just a male version of dressing up,
a game devised to avoid
profound spiritual questions? Ah,
but it wasn’t only the war. The world had begun
calling them, an opera beginning with the war’s
loud chords and ending with the floating aria of the sirens.
There on the beach, discussing the various
timetables for getting home, no one believed
it could take ten years to get back to Ithaca;
no one foresaw that decade of insoluble dilemmas—oh unanswerable
affliction of the human heart: how to divide
the world’s beauty into acceptable
and unacceptable loves! On the shores of Troy,
how could the Greeks know
they were hostages already: who once
delays the journey is
already enthralled; how could they know
that of their small number
some would be held forever by the dreams of pleasure,
some by sleep, some by music?


"Parable of the Hostages" by Louise Glück, from Meadowlands. Copyright © 1996 by Louise Glück.