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 Louise Glück

From The Wild Iris 

The Wild Iris

At the end of my suffering
there was a door.

Hear me out: that which you call death
I remember.

Overhead, noises, branches of the pine shifting.
Then nothing, the weak sun
flickered over the dry surface.

It is terrible to survive
as consciousness
buried in the dark earth.

Then it was over: that which you fear, being
a soul and unable
to speak, ending abruptly, the stiff earth
bending a little. And what I took to be 
birds darting in low shrubs.

You who do not remember
passage from the other world
I tell you I could speak again: whatever
returns from oblivion returns
to find a voice:

from the center of my life came
a great fountain, deep blue
shadows on azure seawater.

Text in Russian

From Ararat

Lost Love .

My sister spent a whole life in the earth.
She was born, she died.
In between,
not one alert look, not one sentence.

She did what babies do,
she cried. But she didn't want to be fed.
Still, my mother held her, trying to change
first fate, then history.

Something did change: when my sister died,
my mother's heart became
very cold, very rigid,
like a tiny pendant of iron.

Then it seemed to me my sister's body
was a magnet. I could feel it draw
my mother's heart into the earth,
so it would grow.

Text in Russian

From Vita Nova

The Queen of Carthage 

Brutal to love,
more brutal to die.
And brutal beyond the reaches of justice
to die of love.

In the end, Dido
summoned her ladies in waiting
that they might see
the harsh destiny inscribed for her by the Fates.

She said, «Aeneas
came to me over the shimmering water;
I asked the Fates
to permit him to return my passion,
even for a short time. What difference 
between that and a lifetime: in truth, in such moments,
they are the same, they are both eternity.

I was given a great gift
which I attempted to increase, to prolong.
Aeneas came to me over the water: the beginning
blinded me.

Now the Queen of Carthage
will accept suffering as the accepted favor:
to be noticed by the Fates
is some distinction after all.

Or should one say, to have honored hunger,
since the Fates go by that name also.»

Text in Russian


A terrible thing is happening my love
is dying again, my love who has died already:
died and been mourned.  And music continues,
music of separation: the trees
become instruments.

How cruel the earth, the willows shimmering,
the birches bending and sighting.
How cruel, how profoundly tender.

My love is dying, my love
not only a person, but an idea, a life.

What will I live for?
Where will I find him again
if not in grief, dark wood
from which the lute is made.

Once is enough. Once is enough
to say goodbye on earth.
And to grieve, that too, of course.
Once is enough to say goodbye forever.

The willows shimmer by the stone fountain,
paths of flowers abutting.

Once is enough: why is he living again?
And so briefly, and only in dream.

My love is dying, parting has started again.
And through the veils of the willows
sunlight rising and glowing,
not the light we knew.
And the birds singing again, even the mourning dove.

Ah, I have sung this song. By the stone fountain
the willows are singing again
with unspeakable tenderness, trailing their leaves
in the radiant water.

Clearly they know, they know. He is dying again,
and the world also. Dying the rest of my life,
so I believe. 

Text in Russian

From The Seven Ages

The Sensual World 

I call to you across a monstrous river or chasm
to caution you, to prepare you.

Earth will seduce you, slowly, imperceptibly,
subtly, not to say with connivance.

I was not prepared: I stood in my grandmothers kitchen,
holding out my glass. Stewed plums, stewed apricots

the juice poured off into the glass of ice.
And the water added, patiently, in small increments,

the various cousins discriminating, tasting
with each addition

aroma of summer fruit, intensity of concentration:
the colored liquid turning gradually lighter, more radiant,

more light passing through it.
Delight, then solace. My grandmother waiting,

to see if more was wanted. Solace, then deep immersion.
I loved nothing more: deep privacy of the sensual life,

the self disappearing into it or inseparable from it,
somehow suspended, floating, its needs

fully exposed, awakened, fully alive
Deep immersion, and with it

mysterious safety. Far away, the fruit glowing in its glass bowls.
Outside the kitchen, the sun setting.

I was not prepared: sunset, end of summer. Demonstrations
of time as a cotinuum, as something coming to an end,

not a suspension; the senses wouldnt protect me.
I caution you as I was never cautioned:

you will never let go, you will never be satiated.
You will be damaged and scarred, you will continue to hunger.

Your body will age, you will continue to need.
You will want the earth, then more of the earth

Sublime, indifferent, it is present, it will not respond.
It is encompassing, it will not minister.

Meaning, it will feed you, it will ravish you,
it will not keep you alive.

Text in Russian

Translation into Russian 
by B. Mizrahi, G. Starikovsky, 
V. Chereshnya, V. Gandelsman

ARS-INTERPRES, New York, 2002
Bilingual, 100 pages
Library of Congress Control Number:
2002091644  ISBN: 0-9718419-1-8

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