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Wild Iris Paperback – November 1, 1993

39 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews Review

In an earlier set of poems, The Garden, Gluck retold the myth of Eden; in this sequence it is clear that paradise has been lost, and the poet, Eve-like, struggles to make sense of her place in the universe. For this old and still post-modern theme, Gluck bravely takes the risk of adopting a highly symbolic structure. She uses the conceit of parallel discourses between the flowers of a garden and the gardener (the poet), and between the gardener/poet and an unnamed god. The reader shares the poet's human predicament of being caught between these material and spiritual worlds, each lush and musical, drawing inspiration from both: from the flowers, a hymn to communality; from the god, a universal view of human suffering. The collection was awarded the 1993 Pulitzer Prize for poetry.

From Publishers Weekly

The award-winning author of The Triumph of Achilles looks here at relations between heaven and earth. More than half of the poems address an "unreachable father," or are spoken in a voice meant to be his: "Your souls should have been immense by now, / not what they are, / small talking things . . . This ambitious and original work consists of a series of "matins," "vespers," poems about flowers, and others about the seasons or times of day, carrying forward a dialogue between the human and divine. This is poetry of great beauty, where lamentation, doubt and praise show us a god who can blast or console, but who too often leaves us alone; Gluck, then, wishes to understand a world where peace "rushes through me, / . . . like bright light through the bare tree." Only rarely (in "The Doorway," for example) does the writing fail. But when dialogue melds with lyricism, the result is splendid. In "Violets" the speaker tells her "dear / suffering master": "you / are no more lost / than we are, under / the hawthorn tree, the hawthorn holding / balanced trays of pearls." This important book has a powerful, muted strangeness.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 63 pages
  • Publisher: Ecco; Reprint edition (November 1, 1993)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0880013346
  • ISBN-13: 978-0880013345
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.2 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (39 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #137,961 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

38 of 40 people found the following review helpful By J. Tibbetts on January 4, 2005
Format: Paperback
I read this book for a university intro to poetry class. I had never read much real poetry before this class, so I had no choice but to approach this book with the beginner's mind. I must say that out of all of the great poetry we read in class, this book had my favorite selections in it. It inspired wonderful conversation about the idea of God, the capacity for nature to teach us new things, and the way that many humans don't seem to understand the world that they live in. There is no fixed voice here, at times the persona is God observing his creation, or it is the mind of a flower or a plant and at other times it is a despairing, confused and frustrated human. It is not always clear which voice each poem is written in, as God and human voices both sound like the plant voice sometimes and vice versa. This makes the plant voice something like the middle ground where God and the humans could communicate if only they knew how. All in all the balance of the three different styles of poetry blend together into a cohesive whole that really should be read as one related theme. Within all of that, there are images in this book that I think will either inspire or haunt you, or both. This is what I had imagined great poetry to be. This book defies the cliches about what nature poetry should be like and establishes a vivid and beautiful alternative world that is actually right before our eyes.
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Matthew Merendo on January 13, 2007
Format: Paperback
If I love Louise Glück, I adore *The Wild Iris*. There is not a single poem in this book that does not move me, speak to me, elicit some sort of positive response. I've loved Glück for quite awhile, and I came back to her recently in an attempt to recover from the events of a particularly devastating week. I sought new life in *Vita Nova* and found merely a hint of what *The Wild Iris* gave me today. I read this book quite awhile ago, and my second coming to it now revitalized me, left me feeling fresh and new and able to move on with my life. Thanks, Ms. Glück.

The book is a poetic sequence, epitomizes the idea of a sequence, in fact. That is, this is not a novel-in-verse, like the stupendous, magnificent, unbelievable *Autobiography of Red* by Anne Carson. There is no real plot, no real characters, no real setting. (I emphasize the adjective 'real,' because there is a plot and a setting and there are characters, but not in the traditional sense.) Rather, the poems speak to each other, they converse. Literally, as the book takes the form of two parallel discourses: 1) between a female gardener and God and 2) between plants and the female gardener or, more generally, humanity. It is no mistake that the book abounds with flowers and gardens and God: the creation myth of Adam and Eve in the garden acts a sort of driving force behind the entire book, although the Paradise lost is not necessarily a physical location or even a proximity to any one particular deity. The plot, as far as there is a plot, chronicles disillusionment, frustration, despair, and yes, hope.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 3, 1999
Format: Paperback
I loved this book! I picked this collection of transcendant poems while a senior in high school and was enthralled with its poignancy. I was able to relate to the character's questioning of an omnipresent God as well as the pain they faced when considering the possibilities of a harsh, uncaring "other" in the Heavens. Completely fulfilling and a joy to read!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Allen Hoey on August 30, 2006
Format: Paperback
Louise Glück explores the complex relationship between God, humans, and the natural world with startling emotional depth in The Wild Iris, her sixth collection. Far from the strained and occasionally awkward lines and language of her previous books, these poems strive for and usually master an elegant lyricism in the imagined voices of wildflowers; of God manifest in wind, light, and changing seasons; and of a woman who struggles to find evidence of God while laboring in a garden in a cold climate. In poems most often titled "Matins" and "Vespers," the human voice expresses fear, frustration, and love, while "checking / each clump for the symbolic / leaf" in the garden and entertaining the apprehension that God, the addressed "you" of these poems, "exist[s] / exclusively in warmer climates...." Plants, most often wildflowers, counter these prayers, presenting a view more eternal for the accelerated brevity of their lives. Glück's gift in these poems is a capacity for lyric eruption coupled with emotional restraint. The voices are passionate but never hysterical; plants and God chide humans, as in the poem above, for their apparently willful ignorance, but the criticism never reads as self-pity. These poems grapple honestly and successfully with questions of ultimate reality, not sheering away from critical self-assessment nor veering into a merely postured piety. They sing and praise and renew with successive readings.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 21, 1998
Format: Paperback
Wild Iris, a book of poems, which allows one to visualize the personification of human emotions as a metaphor of flowers. Louise Gluck author, has masterfully taken us on a journey where time lies between alpha and omega, with boundaries that circumscribe within the realms of heaven and earth. What better way to travel, than through the "eyes" of the flowers scattered throughout the gardens of the world. This metaphor, when applied as reflective analogies pertaining to the essence of life and human experiences, creatively bonds the writer with the reader as one entity, exploring the aftermath of conscious thoughts pondered for insightfil wisdom. As the speaker in most of her poems, Louise Gluck joins us in kinship with feelings of pain, conscious awareness, and eternal truths. Therefore, we are escorted with her through an imaginary garden of flowers as parallel partners of human spirits combined with similar thoughts of awareness. Once this relationship has articulately interwoven its self within our highest condition of natural development, better known as maturity, reality takes its rightful place. perhaps, this can be perceived as the art of surviving the processes of living. I found myself completely enticed, and captivated with this bouquet of flowers, strangely mated with the imagery of petals and sepals used as portraits to describe personal feelings of love, pain and psychological trauma. I find the poems of " The Wild Iris," to be brilliant, intimately filled with emotions, and insightful with heartfelt reflections regarding the complexities of emotional survival.
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