Collaborative Close Readings
I’m very caught up in the evening/darkness imagery of the poem.
Vespers is the evening prayer in the liturgy of the hours. (Someday, remind me to tell you of my retreat with the Benedictines and my random canine companion, who always knew when to meet me for morning prayer.) It’s often the last prayer done in community, with night prayer (Compline) happening at midnight.
If I’ve done my homework correctly, Louise Gluck was almost 50 when this poem was first published…the age I am now…and I keep seeing the poem as a metaphor for that place in later midlife, when darkness is falling and we look back on what we’ve grown. We have a while to go before full night, but the sun is starting to set.
“…who are, in consequence
immune to foreshadowing, you may not know
how much terror we bear, the spotted leaf,the red leaves of the maple falling
even in August,”
are very poignantly meaningful for this time of life. We recognize the signs of aging and if feels too soon. It’s also a time when we’re learning that we are fully responsible for our own lives.
I also love the language of the poem. Her use of alliteration in absence/anticipating and broken/blight/black just carry us through the poem, riding on the wave of sound.
Thanks so much, Nadia, for choosing this gorgeous piece!