Sudden Spoon

Collaborative Close Readings

Vespers: From Resentment to Acceptance

This poem strikes me as an example of the process many of us go through in accepting when bad things happen that feel out of our control. First, the speaker is angry, although the bitterness is slightly tempered by the pseudo-formal tone of the first part. Phrases like “In your extended absence” and “return on investment” sound dispassionate and businesslike, but the emotion behind the words is betrayed by phrases like “my heart broken” and “terror we bear” later in the poem. The speaker, at the beginning of the poem, is blaming the Creator for allowing her to plant tomatoes in an inhospitable climate. This reminds me of the denial of a teenager who, after crashing the car, blames the parents for allowing her to drive in the first place. It is an immature, yet human, reaction to taking on a responsibility and seeing it fail.

However, the speaker, who seems to view the Creator as omnipotent if not omnipresent, still acknowledges “on the other hand” all the things that she contributed to the process. She planted the seeds and watched them sprout, but was heartbroken at the first sign of a problem with the crop. She indicts the Creator for its indifference to life and death and its apathy in the face of clear signs that the plants won’t prosper. In the end, despite the anger and denial, she comes to the point where she can accept and proclaim that SHE in fact is responsible for “these vines.” Similarly, in times of adversity, many of us realize that after the anger and denial, the cursing of nature and chance, that we alone bear (and should accept) the responsibility for the actions we take and the seeds we plant.


About abuonin

Reader, writer and arithmetic-er.

6 comments on “Vespers: From Resentment to Acceptance

  1. figuringfifty
    November 30, 2012

    I love this! Why do you think she chose tomatoes?

    • Nadia Ghent
      December 1, 2012

      I bet it has to do with the potent image that tomatoes have–members of the nightshade family, tomatoes have a dual existence as both fruit and vegetable. And tomatoes were initially thought to be poisonous! Now they represent the most delicious, desirous harbinger of full summer, and frost on the tomatoes can represent the end of freshness, life, growth.

    • Elizabeth Evans
      December 1, 2012

      Tomatoes are a challenge to a northern gardener, but we all dream of them. From February sowing under grow lights to the anxious hardening off and setting out. All too often our dreams are crushed and our months of labor ruined.

  2. Nadia Ghent
    December 1, 2012

    Excellent post! I love your comparison to a teenager crashing the family car and blaming her parents for letting her drive! And I absolutely agree that Gluck turns to acceptance at the end, as any responsible person will, for the nurturing that all living things we have brought into the world demand of us. Despite her angry, impersonal tone, she is deeply mindful of the pain she feels when what she is responsible for cannot survive. She as poet must mind her garden–her poetry–since no one else will.

  3. dennisaguinaldo
    December 2, 2012

    I wonder what caused her to turn from anger/denial to acceptance and (just maybe) a state of grace? Was it the extended absence? Or the power of such a one who could command the moods of sky and earth?

  4. trjst
    December 4, 2012

    I became so hung up with a meta reading that I didn’t feel Glück’s garden pathos despite my lifelong gardening efforts and tomato obsession. Andrea is right on with her assertion that blaming the ‘creator’ is an immature reaction. That initial blame took me straight to meta passing garden hyperbole quickly.

    Acceptance following anger and denial is very real and normal. Andrea is onto something. Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, and Acceptance are the five stages of grief. Pop psychology maybe. Pop poetry maybe.

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This entry was posted on November 30, 2012 by in Week 1 and tagged .
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