First Four Books of Poems

First Four Books of Poems

4.16 (1,016 ratings by Goodreads)
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Louise Gluck says in one of her essays that every end of a book is for her a "conscious diagnostic act, a swearing off" in which she discerns the themes, habits, and preoccupations of the previous volume to define the tasks of the next. The First Four Books of Poems shows this poet in the conscious evolution she describes, marking time in changes. Readers will hear specifics of sequence: where the ferocious tension of her first book, Firstborn, moves towards the more finely-spun lyricism of her second, The House on Marshland. They will also discover how the charged nouns of that book acquire more intimate weight to become the icons in her third, Descending Figure, and then rise to an archetypal mythic scale in The Triumph of Achilles. These poems are as various as the force of Gluck's intelligence is constant. In another essay, she cautions, "the deft skirting of despair is a life lived on the surface, intimidated by depth, a life that refuses to be used by time, which it tries instead to dominate or evade." The First Four Books of Poems attests to how truly Gluck has tested and proven the validity of her own warning. The fierce, austerely beautiful voice that has become Gluck's trademark speaks in these poems of a life lived in unflinching awareness. Always she is moving in and around the achingly real, writing poems adamant in their accuracy and depth. Their progression is proof of her commitment to change; with her first four books of poetry collected in a single volume, Louise Gluck shows herself happily "used by time."show more

Product details

  • Paperback | 240 pages
  • 152.4 x 226.06 x 17.78mm | 249.47g
  • Ecco Press
  • Hopewell,N.J
  • English
  • 2nd ed.
  • 0880014776
  • 9780880014779
  • 349,596

Review quote

"This is courageous writing .... when Gluck applies lyric grace to her own mysterious vision she captivates her readers, assuming her rightful place among the finest poets of the age."-- Mary Karr, author of "The Liar's Club""[Louise Gluck's] poems are delicately intense, spun out of fire and air, with a tensile strength that belies their fragility. They are rooted in landscape and weather and, increasingly, in intimacies of the heart. Everything she touches turns to music and legend."-- Stanley Kunitz"Gluck's ... poetry is rock-bottom hard and final yet marked by a sentience next to clairvoyance, and subtle surprise, and strong beauty. In the midst of the usual fumbling well-meant 'delightful' efforts of the poetry of any age, poems like hers must come as a liberating rout of everything would-be, tepid, maundering, arbitrary."-- Calvin Bedientshow more

Rating details

1,016 ratings
4.16 out of 5 stars
5 42% (425)
4 38% (385)
3 16% (166)
2 3% (29)
1 1% (11)
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