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Louise Glück’s, “The House on Marshland”

Louise Glück’s, “The House on Marshland” is a collection of poetry that stems from the seeds of every day life. Many of the topics she visits are holidays, fairy tales, and the simple gestures of human interaction. Her natural gift of story-telling and ability to weave delicate imagery into everything she writes, gives “The House on Marshland” a special voice that many should be able to relate to.

Her first poem in the book “All Hallows” illustrates the return of evening on Halloween night. She makes reference to the tradition of gathering of a late harvest in the fall.

Glück writes,

This is the barrenness

of harvest or pestilence.

And the wife leaning out the window

with her hand extended, as in payment,

and the seeds

distinct, gold, calling

Come here

Come here, little one

 

And the soul creeps out of the tree.

 

The final line contains an eeriness that reflects the mystery of nature. This also mirrors the understood gloom and sense of fear that goes along with the Halloween holiday.

Glück also explores the classic Brother’s Grimm fairy tale, “Hansel and Gretel” in the poem, “Gretel in Darkness.” She describes the thoughts of Gretel after the sibling’s incineration of the evil witch and flee from the candied house. Glück writes,

This is the world we wanted.

All who would have seen us dead

are dead. I hear the witch’s cry

break in the moonlight through a sheet

of sugar: God rewards.

Her tongue shrivels into gas…

The last line of the first stanza in particularly  powerful as the witch’s actual tongue and words burn away and disappear into vapor. The rendering of this fairy tale into a poetic form and the analyzed aftermath is genius. The way Glück seems to understand Gretel from the core of her being is especially striking.

The poem “Gratitude” expresses the affect of an act of kindness bestowed on a fellow human being. Glück writes,

Do not think I am no grateful for your small

kindness to me.

I like small kindnesses.

In fact I actually prefer them to the more

substantial kindness, that is always eyeing you,

like a large animal on a rug,

until your whole life reduces

to nothing but waking up morning after morning

cramped, and the bright sun shining on its tusks.

The imagery of a substantial kindness being a large animal, an “elephant int the room” if you will, is one of note. This idea is incredibly relatable to anyone who has ever been given a kindness, and then later feels that it can never be repaid to the extent of the original kindness.

Louise Glück’s, “The House on Marshland” is a beautiful collection of poetry that is absolutely worth exploring.

-Calynn Hulsey-Liong

 

3 Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. WTP Writer: Charlotte Holmes | The Woven Tale Press on Tuesday, February 13, 2018 at 9:34 am

    […] is something I still study. Louise Glück’s work has been important to me from since I discovered The House on Marshland in the late […]

  2. WTP Writer: Charlotte Holmes | The Woven Tale Press blog on Wednesday, February 21, 2018 at 8:35 pm

    […] is something I still study. Louise Glück’s work has been important to me from since I discovered The House on Marshland in the late […]

  3. WTP Writer: Charlotte Holmes – STAGE The Woven Tale Press on Saturday, January 5, 2019 at 11:32 am

    […] is something I still study. Louise Glück’s work has been important to me from since I discovered The House on Marshland in the late […]

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