Sunday, July 19, 2015

Shapeshifting Night

Link: http://www.tweetspeakpoetry.com/2015/02/03/poets-poems-louise-gluck-faithful-virtuous-night/?utm_campaign=shareaholic&utm_medium=email_this&utm_source=email
 
Maribeth is onto something! Maribeth's comment on Gluck's poem, The Past, prompted an exploration for any comment on it.  The author of the link uses the metaphor of the movies suggested by the poem itself to pursue in more detail Maribeth's experience of the poem. 
 
For me, when she describes her deceased mother's voice as the same as the sound wind makes through trees, as "passing through nothing", the image of the past, memories, thoughts, experiences, and even our lives flashed through my mind.
 
Where is the narrator of the poem and who is the narrator of the poem?  In fact, can the reader take anything for granted with her elliptical and elusive style, making it difficult to get hold of "facts" that usually make a traditional autobiographical narrative. 
 
Her self is very malleable, being male at one point; other selves emerge later in the book.  Is she trying them on to see where it takes her since as she says in the Parable she wants to live out and go beyond both being a pilgrim or wanderer with purpose and with no purpose? In other words, at the edge of life if only in the poem or in her imaginary life.
 
Parable and The Adventure helps prepare us for the death of her or the narrator's parents when she/he was a child/imagined child in The Past.  The first two poems invoke ultimate meaning or  the absolute and the paradoxes of life and its purpose or lack of purpose and her adventure in the land of death.  
 
This view, which is hardly the only possible view, gives full weight and credence to the book her brother was reading that became associated with the day of the parent's death.  These confluences led her to appreciate the "Faithful and Virtuous Night" that lives in books, imagination, and the aftershocks of trauma and depression on the death of one's parents so early in life. As she says, "I found the darkness comforting."  Her poetry is a library on its significance for her.
 
The young girl lost her voice upon the death of her parents, indicating the importance of being able to speak one's feelings and turmoil and some mental balance in the face of "absolute" things that are irreversible and incomprehensible, as it was flowing through the girl. 
 
How will she survive such a trauma?  What will she make of her life where she now was living life as a boy? 
 
I love how she brings the reader in with her in the second poem at Section 6:  "You had been with me--"  talking to her brother, me, you in the land of the dead.
 
As both Gloria and Maribeth comment, she effectively employs every sense to enhance your feeling and to draw you in to be part of the narrative instead of the having a detached and ironical stance to the experience of the events.  She makes the poetic experience genuine.
 
At the same time, every interpretation I have made so far will change as the poet shape shifts the story to include much more reality, experience, paradox, and ambiguity the older she gets in the book, another self painting a shifting landscape for us.  Also, title of the book acquires other meanings.
 
I'll comment later on her specific poetic skills and visions.  Just one last observation:  what she is not telling or showing is as important as what she is telling and showing.  This aspect of her approach to poetry means the reader must do the work and provide the imaginative paint to complete the portraits she draws.  She draws you into the poetry to be the maker of it along with her, a brilliant achievement.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

 

 


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