10 April 2011

"The Wild Iris"

From an American Poet during National Poetry Month:

Louise Gluck is one of my favorite poets. One I go to when I want to enter a new world, want to see things in a new way or to be amazed and delighted. My copy of one of her books, The Wild Iris, for which she won the Pulitzer Prize for poetry in 1993, is worn by my many returns to it's pages. The signature poem of this remarkable series is entitled "The Wild Iris" and, like all the poems in the book, speaks in the voice of the flower.

The Wild Iris

At the end of my suffering
there was a door.

Here me out: that which you call death
I remember.

Overhead, noises, branches of the pine shifting.
Then nothing. The weak sun
flickered over the dry surface.

It is terrible to survive
as consciousness
buried in the dark earth.

Then it was over: that which you fear, being
a soul and unable
to speak, ending abruptly, the stiff earth
bending a little. And what I took to be
birds darting in low shrubs.

You who do not remember
passage from the other world
I tell you I could speak again: whatever
returns from oblivion returns
to find a voice:

from the center of my life came
a great fountain, deep blue
shadows on azure seawater.

Louise Gluck

How remarkable to see the world through the eyes of an iris, to hear its descriptions of the world, to recognize its wisdom.


  1. Profundity is often simple, is it not?
    What is simpler yet more profound than this iris knowing when, indeed, being unable to resist, rejuvenation?

  2. They grow everywhere here in Western Oregon. I'm not familiar with the works of Louise Gluck, and I'm glad you introduced her to us. Happy Poetry Month to you too.

  3. Beautiful, and well-worth thinking about throughout my day.

  4. Another wonderful poem....and beautiful iris!!

  5. June, Yes, "the stiff earth bending a little" and then…!
    Rosaria, Her last name has two dots over the u which I can't do on my keyboard. But her work is stunning.
    Nancy, I'm glad. I love "whatever returns from oblivion returns to find a voice". What a great, thoughtful line.
    Nanny, I love poetry. The iris came from a free download site since I didn't have a photo.

  6. So thankful for the introduction to Louise Gluck ... and the reminder of how very lovely and profound poetry can be. I forget that far too often, busy my heart and mind with other words.

  7. I loe to see the ferns breaking out of the earth this time of year, they look vunerable and tender, unfurling slowly like they are stretching...this poem could be about them too!

  8. Lauren, Glad you like.
    Lisa, Her poetry is balm for the heart and mind.
    Lynne, So true. She doesn't just write about the iris but with the voice of the iris. The iris speaks to us.


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