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The Wild Iris


Winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature


    And in the crook, where the tree divides,
    leaves of the first daffodils, in moonlight
    soft greenish-silver.

    We have come too far together toward the end now
    to fear the end. These nights, I am no longer even certain
    I know what the end means. And you, who've been with a
        man --

    after the first cries,
    doesn't joy, like fear, make no sound?

from 'The Silver Lily'

Helen Vendler wrote in The New Republic: '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, which are often thought to represent two camps in the life of poetry'.

What a strange book The Wild Iris is, appearing in this fin-de-siècle, written in the language of flowers. It is a lieder cycle, with all the mournful cadences of that form. It wagers everything on the poetic energy remaining in the old troubadour image of the spring, the Biblical lilies of the field, natural resurrection.

Louise Glűck is the author of twelve books of poems and two collections of essays. She received the 2020 Nobel Prize in Literature "for her unmistakable poetic voice that with austere beauty makes individual existence universal." Her other awards include the National Humanities Medal, the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Award, the Bollingen Prize, the Wallace Stevens Award from the Academy of American Poets, and the Gold Medal for Poetry from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. She taught at Yale University and Stanford University and lived in Cambridge, Massachusetts. She died in October 2023 at the age of 80.


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