Dead Tree Book Log: The Seven Ages by Louise Gluck

September 28, 2007 at 5:29 pm (books)

(First entry here.)

I’ve just finished The Seven Ages by Louise Gluck.

There are some poets and books of poems I recommend incessantly to everyone, including (and sometimes especially) people who don’t usually read poetry. I often put down collections of poems with the conviction that they would be enjoyable far outside the too-narrow segment of the population who pick up such books on their own.

I don’t know that I would say that about The Seven Ages, though it is a lovely book. I’ve read very little of Louise Gluck’s work, so I can’t contextualize it, but I don’t think I’d recommend this particular volume to folks who don’t like poetry in general.

Folks who do like poetry should definitely pick it up, though. She muses about a lot of standard topics — human existence and the passage of time and childhood and love — in a distinctive way, alternately making broad statements about the nature of reality and zeroing in on vivid, intimate details (like poets tend to do). A prime example, this the last stanza of “Radium”:

Time was passing. Time was carrying us
faster and faster toward the door of the laboratory,
and then beyond the door into the abyss, the darkness.
My mother stirred the soup. The onions,
by a miracle, became part of the potatoes.

That’s the book at it’s best, I think. And there is a lot of it.

She lost me in some places, though — that’s why I wouldn’t suggest it to everybody. All of it is well-written, of course, but I found some of it dry. It’s worth it to mull through the blander parts for the sweet spots, but only if you’re into that kind of thing.

Here is the text of my favorite poem in the book. It’s called “The Sensual World.” Unfortunately the formatting there is a little screwy, but I couldn’t find it elsewhere. Here is “The Sensual World” with much better formatting. Thanks, Miriam B!



  1. Miriam B. said,

    Reasonably ok format of same poem at
    Speakin’ particularly as a grandmother-age non-grandmother, thanks for this one.

  2. Daisy said,

    Hey Miriam, thanks for the link — that formatting is a lot better, I’m going to add it to the post right now.

    : )

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