Circe’s Power

I never turned anyone into a pig.

Some people are pigs; I make them

Look like pigs.
I’m sick of your world

That lets the outside disguise the inside. Your men weren’t bad men;

Undisciplined life

Did that to them. As pigs,
Under the care of

Me and my ladies, they

Sweetened right up.
Then I reversed the spell, showing you my goodness

As well as my power. I saw
We could be happy here,

As men and women are

When their needs are simple. In the same breath,
I foresaw your departure,

Your men with my help braving

The crying and pounding sea. You think
A few tears upset me? My friend,

Every sorceress is

A pragmatist at heart; nobody sees essence who can’t

Face limitation. If I wanted only to hold you
I could hold you prisoner.

Circe’s Torment

I regret bitterly

The years of loving you in both

Your presence and absence, regret

The law, the vocation

That forbid me to keep you, the sea

A sheet of glass, the sun-bleached

Beauty of the Greek ships: how

Could I have power if

I had no wish

To transform you: as

You loved my body,

As you found there

Passion we held above

All other gifts, in that single moment

Over honor and hope, over

Loyalty, in the name of that bond

I refuse you

Such feeling for your wife

As will let you

Rest with her, I refuse you

Sleep again

If I cannot have you.

Circe’s Grief

In the end, I made myself

Known to your wife as

A god would, in her own house, in

Ithaca, a voice

Without a body: she

Paused in her weaving, her head turning

First to the right, then left

Though it was hopeless of course

To trace that sound to any

Objective source: I doubt

She will return to her loom

With what she knows now. When

You see her again, tell her

This is how a god says goodbye:

If I am in her head forever

I am in your life forever.

One of my favourite modern poem cycles… Louise is truly an amazing talent, and for once someone gets the recognition for their work.
Louise Glück was born in New York City in 1943 and grew up on Long Island. She is the author of numerous books of poetry, most recently, Averno (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2006), a finalist for the 2006 National Book Award in Poetry; The Seven Ages (2001); and Vita Nova (1999), winner of Boston Book Review’s Bingham Poetry Prize and The New Yorker’s Book Award in Poetry. In 2004, Sarabande Books released her six-part poem “October” as a chapbook.
Her other books include Meadowlands (1996); The Wild Iris (1992), which received the Pulitzer Prize and the Poetry Society of America’s William Carlos Williams Award; Ararat (1990), for which she received the Library of Congress’s Rebekah Johnson Bobbitt National Prize for Poetry; and The Triumph of Achilles (1985), which received the National Book Critics Circle Award, the Boston Globe Literary Press Award, and the Poetry Society of America’s Melville Kane Award.
In a review in The New Republic, the critic Helen Vendler wrote: “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.”
She has also published a collection of essays, Proofs and Theories: Essays on Poetry (1994), which won the PEN/Martha Albrand Award for Nonfiction. Her honors include the Bollingen Prize in Poetry, the Lannan Literary Award for Poetry, a Sara Teasdale Memorial Prize, the MIT Anniversary Medal and fellowships from the Guggenheim and Rockefeller Foundations, and from the National Endowment for the Arts.
In 1999 Glück was elected a Chancellor of The Academy of American Poets. In the fall of 2003, she replaced Billy Collins as the Library of Congress’s twelfth Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry. In 2003, she was announced as the new judge of the Yale Series of Younger Poets, a position she will hold through 2007. She is a writer-in-residence at Yale University.

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