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
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.
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