Collaborative Close Readings
On the one hand: there are eleven lines of business-speak in dry, accusatory accounting. A deal has gone awry. The narrator points a finger to “you.”
On the other hand: the next eleven lines are soppy garden melodrama. “I” declarations and angst point to the narrator-gardener and the “you” again while doubting “you.”
The 23rd and final line of the poem is: “for these vines.” Vines of lines where the poet claims responsibility for the garden and the poem.
This poem is an admonishment of “you” the long absent Muse and the narrator herself. Glück resorts to gardening metaphors and retorts her Muse who may be gone with…
Scarlett O’Hara clinches a fistful of dirt and declares “…when it’s all over, I’ll never be hungry again.”
Louise Glück clinches a fistful of garden dirt and declares “I am responsible for the vines.” The vines are the lines and creeper of her work.
The garden drama reminds me of Frank O’Hara’s “Why I Am Not a Painter”: “There should be / so much more, not of orange, of / words, of how terrible orange is / and life” that mocks poetic hyperbole inclinations.
The garden is her poetry. She is the gardener. She is the poet. She is her Muse. She agonizes. She accuses herself, retorts herself and mocks herself. Her self prevails.
— Treva Stose