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Wild Iris [Paperback]

Louise Gluck
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Nov. 15 1993
This collection of stunningly beautiful poems encompasses the natural, human, and spiritual realms, and is bound together by the universal themes of time and mortality. With clarity and sureness of craft, Gluck's poetry questions, explores, and finally celebrates the ordeal of being alive. 1992 National Book Award finalist.

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In an earlier set of poems, The Garden, Gluck retold the myth of Eden; in this sequence it is clear that paradise has been lost, and the poet, Eve-like, struggles to make sense of her place in the universe. For this old and still post-modern theme, Gluck bravely takes the risk of adopting a highly symbolic structure. She uses the conceit of parallel discourses between the flowers of a garden and the gardener (the poet), and between the gardener/poet and an unnamed god. The reader shares the poet's human predicament of being caught between these material and spiritual worlds, each lush and musical, drawing inspiration from both: from the flowers, a hymn to communality; from the god, a universal view of human suffering. The collection was awarded the 1993 Pulitzer Prize for poetry.

From Publishers Weekly

The award-winning author of The Triumph of Achilles looks here at relations between heaven and earth. More than half of the poems address an "unreachable father," or are spoken in a voice meant to be his: "Your souls should have been immense by now, / not what they are, / small talking things . . . This ambitious and original work consists of a series of "matins," "vespers," poems about flowers, and others about the seasons or times of day, carrying forward a dialogue between the human and divine. This is poetry of great beauty, where lamentation, doubt and praise show us a god who can blast or console, but who too often leaves us alone; Gluck, then, wishes to understand a world where peace "rushes through me, / . . . like bright light through the bare tree." Only rarely (in "The Doorway," for example) does the writing fail. But when dialogue melds with lyricism, the result is splendid. In "Violets" the speaker tells her "dear / suffering master": "you / are no more lost / than we are, under / the hawthorn tree, the hawthorn holding / balanced trays of pearls." This important book has a powerful, muted strangeness.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Poetry at its most honest and pure Nov. 10 2003
By A Customer
If you read any poetry this year, read this book.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Wild Iris - awesome Oct. 28 2003
By A Customer
The works at first appear dark and daunting, after some contemplation one sees life in a new light, of hope, and connection, renewal, and rebirth! Louise Gluck speaks to us all!
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1.0 out of 5 stars Gluck Book Over-rated Jan. 21 2002
By A Customer
The Wild Iris has garnered much praise but its poetry is precious and pretentious. Gluck has been one of the most over-praised poets in America. Time will reshuffle the deck, and then future readers will wonder what the fuss was all about. Her early work can still make an impact; there is a haunting, understated quality to it that makes reading it somewhat pleasurable. There's little of that to be found in The Wild Iris, however.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A very important book Oct. 28 2000
One of the best books of poetry I've ever read. Each time I pick it up I am newly astounded at the elegance and beauitfully contained passion of these poems. Encompassing a summer of growth, change, and conversations with God in the original Holy place, a garden, this book is well deserving of its Pulitzer Prize, and of being read many times over.
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5.0 out of 5 stars The culmination of Gluck's writing May 5 2000
By A Customer
This book is amazing and well-deserving of the Pulitzer Prize it received. If you enjoyed "The Meadowlands" or are a fan of Gluck in general, then you will find "The Wild Iris" an amazing read, more accessible, yet more personal than her other books. From the "azure fountain" rising up from the center of her life to the girl who stands in the midsummer doorway, her poems are honest, complex, and poignant. If you are a true fan of verse and language, you must read this.
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2.0 out of 5 stars First time reader not thrilled ... April 24 2000
The Wild Iris by Pulitzer Prize winner Louise Glück combines images of flowers and gardening with emotions of spiritual longing, despair, and frustration. This is the first book of poem I've read by the poet, and honestly, I would not recommend it to a friend because there are few poems that I truly enjoyed reading. My problem with this collection for me is that many of the poems rely on the reader being able to recognize the names of flowers and their meanings or what they symbolize. Lacking this knowledge, I sat with my dictionary trying to decipher what the flora in question looked like and figuring out the flora's possible other meaning, such as roses are associated with love and lilies are associated with mourning. The imagery and meanings of "The Jacob's Ladder" and "The Gold Lily" worked for me (once I learned Jacob's Ladder is a type of phlox plant), but others like "Snowdrops" and "Clover" were more work than they were worth. Also the use of the canonical expression "Matins" did not work as well with its poems as "Vespers" did with its poems. "Vespers," at least, dealt with the evening of the Seasons, Fall, or with the twilight of a person's life. "Matins" had no relation to the Season's morning or a human being's morning in any forms. I'm glad I read this book for the simple reason I can learn from what I liked and disliked and use this in my own writings.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Elegantly Complex Dec 1 1999
By A Customer
Iris is an elegant and noble flower even if it is a wild one.Ms. Glück sends us flowers of pain, love and dream.They come in thin bundles but mean so much...
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