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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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From Amazon

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
2.0 out of 5 stars First time reader not thrilled ... April 24 2000
Format:Paperback
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 Human Emotions Brought to Life Through Flowers Nov. 21 1998
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
Wild Iris, a book of poems, which allows one to visualize the personification of human emotions as a metaphor of flowers. Louise Gluck author, has masterfully taken us on a journey where time lies between alpha and omega, with boundaries that circumscribe within the realms of heaven and earth. What better way to travel, than through the "eyes" of the flowers scattered throughout the gardens of the world. This metaphor, when applied as reflective analogies pertaining to the essence of life and human experiences, creatively bonds the writer with the reader as one entity, exploring the aftermath of conscious thoughts pondered for insightfil wisdom. As the speaker in most of her poems, Louise Gluck joins us in kinship with feelings of pain, conscious awareness, and eternal truths. Therefore, we are escorted with her through an imaginary garden of flowers as parallel partners of human spirits combined with similar thoughts of awareness. Once this relationship has articulately interwoven its self within our highest condition of natural development, better known as maturity, reality takes its rightful place. perhaps, this can be perceived as the art of surviving the processes of living. I found myself completely enticed, and captivated with this bouquet of flowers, strangely mated with the imagery of petals and sepals used as portraits to describe personal feelings of love, pain and psychological trauma. I find the poems of " The Wild Iris," to be brilliant, intimately filled with emotions, and insightful with heartfelt reflections regarding the complexities of emotional survival.
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By A Customer
Format:Paperback
Wild Iris blooms with spiritual beauty in relationship to those on Earth, to God and heaven. Following the cycle of nature in her garden her soul transcends her flowers, through changing seasons. Her archaic word art impresses deep emotions. A nurturing garden yet filled with sadness, despair, grief Rebirth, Death. The ending of a life cycle.
Each page turns as delicately as petals from flowering blossoms and as leaves of the birch flutter down. This collection of poems by Louise Gluck is much more than a beautiful and moving bouquet of irises, poppies, lillies, and daises . . . As rootstocks bind with Mother Earth Gluck's poetry speaks to God with deep spiritual connection. Transforming mind and soul.
Transcending from Earth, the gift of nature--our life on Earth. We blossom with radiance from the sun's rays and the glow of moonbeams. Standing erect through the chill of evening snowfall and events of suffrage.
Embrace faith to sustain the changing seasons And life cycles. The Wild Iris in mind, return to the garden of life with renewed tenderness.
Her words embrace the reader in one sitting. Enjoy and re-read for Gluck has great talent in which she transforms her words into the same sheer beauty a wild iris possesses. She shares deep emotion for life and what it holds for the mortal and immortal. Her words form lovely images that color a spiritual garden. Gluck opens her heart offering an enriching experience and peaceful serenity.
Thank you Louise Gluck for sharing your words of beauty depicting the fragility and true nature of life.
(The non-poet will be inspired to write poetry after reading Gluck's anthology.)
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4.0 out of 5 stars A beautiful account of garden poetry. Nov. 17 1998
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
Close your eyes and walk outside, to your garden- careful not to stub your toe. You have just entered the vast world of Louise Gluck's "The Wild Iris. You will be taken through a journey, meet her family and be introduced to the author herself. Lousie Gluck has created a wonderful comment on life, family and relationships by looking out her livingroom window to the wild iris that grows in so many American families. She is a poet, a mother, a wife and above all else a gardener. One is shocked to see that everything from God and creation, to love and happiness can be found in a small patch of cultivated land. Her work seems influenced by the Bible and Greek literature, but her greatest resourse is life itself. She seems a stern woman at times, complex and moody and there are moments when the reader thanks his lucky tomato plant that he is only her reader and not her son or husband, for her self concern does not spill, and one belives that her loved ones may be thirsty. As a reader, however, I was introduced to a smart and sasy woman, who cared for herself with a passion I wish all had. Mrs. Gluck is a woman with and despite her family and husband; she gardens not because the family needs the food, but rather for a more important reason: her soul needs the soil, it needs to cultivate, grow and become real. Whether or not Mrs. Gluck's luck in the garden came through, her skill in her poetry shines above trite metephores (who knew one could say so much about a simple patch of dirt). She is a talented woman, and I enjoyed the journey that she led me through. Perhaps next time we could go to the zoo and speak of the oppressed society, or even to K-Mart for a chat about urban economics; I'm sure the poet's ablities would not be stifled under any circumbstances.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Poetry at its most honest and pure
If you read any poetry this year, read this book.
Published on Nov. 10 2003
5.0 out of 5 stars Wild Iris - awesome
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!
Published on Oct. 28 2003
1.0 out of 5 stars Gluck Book Over-rated
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. Read more
Published on Jan. 21 2002
5.0 out of 5 stars A very important book
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. Read more
Published on Oct. 28 2000 by N. Dethloff
5.0 out of 5 stars The culmination of Gluck's writing
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... Read more
Published on May 5 2000
5.0 out of 5 stars Elegantly Complex
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...
Published on Dec 1 1999
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful Portrait of Life Struggling with Illusion
I loved this book! I picked this collection of transcendant poems while a senior in high school and was enthralled with its poignancy. Read more
Published on June 3 1999 by "bluestarla"
4.0 out of 5 stars A Fascinating Collection of Poems
The Wild Iris by Louise Gluck is an intriguing collection of poems centered around life forms which seem to be present in her garden. Read more
Published on Nov. 24 1998
4.0 out of 5 stars iT WAS SO ENJOYABLE. VERY INTIMATE AND EMOTIONAL.
lOUISE gLUCK HAS PUT TOGETHER A FASCINATING GROUP OF POEMS THAT SPEAK FROM HER HEART. hER USE OF NATURE HAD A GREAT RELATIONSHIP TO FEELINGS AND EMOTIONS.
Published on Nov. 17 1998
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