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The Seven Ages Paperback – Bargain Price, March 26, 2002

4.2 out of 5 stars 12 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Since the mid-1970s, critics and readers have admired Glck's spare, deceptively simple style; her poems subject the autobiographical, even confessional impulse to analytical rigor, arranging soul-searching questions and symbols into sequences frequently modeled on famous old texts the Odyssey or the biblical Creation. The stark intensities and challenging questions in Gluck's ninth book of poems investigate the disappointments, unfinished quests and unanswered questions that compose, arrange and ruin a life Glck's own, for example, and that of her older sister, who plays the pivotal role husbands and parents have played in some of her previous work. Glck dares her readers to ask, as they might have in childhood, general, harrowing questions: "Why do I suffer? Why am I ignorant?" She dares herself, as well, to live without answers: "I'm awake; I am in the world / I expect/ no further assurance." Careful scenes, queries and moments of self-analysis throughout the volume investigate time the ways in which we change in the course of a lifetime; the ways our minds change from moment to moment; and the ways in which time changes everything, creating "a world in process/ of shifting, of being made or dissolved,/ and yet we didn't live that way." Considering age and aging, summer and fall, "stasis" and constant loss, Gluck's new poems often forsake the light touch of her last few books for the grim wisdom she sought in the 1980s; at the same time, her lines on herself, young and old, and on these stages for her sister and herself, are frequently wise, densely crafted meditations on the odd possibility of "actual human growth." (Apr.)Forecast: Gluck won a Pulitzer, and a wider audience, with The Wild Iris (1993); subsequent explorations of more comic and casual modes have met mixed response. Last year's Vita Nova, however, was recently awarded the biannual Bollingen prize (including $50,000 cash) given by Yale University Library in honor of a recently published American collection which should generate sales for both books.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

"Ashes, disappointment" breathes one poem in this latest collection from Pulitzer Prize winner Gl?ck (The Wild Iris), and indeed the tone of this entire collection is melancholic. The narrator frequently appears as a sort of seraphic messenger, send "back to the world" and none too happy about it: this is a place of hunger and desire, of the need to possess and the distress of never quite doing so. Many of the poems have the feel of fairy tales or fables (one is even called "Fable"); poems about the poet's childhood, frequently featuring her sister, are more earthbound and prosaic. As always, Gl?ck demonstrates incredible craft; this is assured and quietly beautiful poetry. The incessant twilight can wear, however; when a poem complains "We read, we listened to the radio./ Obviously this wasn't life," one is tempted to mutter, "Well, what is?" For most contemporary collections. Barbara Hoffert, "Library Journal"
Copyright 2001 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: 80 pages
  • Publisher: Ecco (March 26, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060933496
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.2 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,728,121 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By A Customer on February 7, 2003
Format: Paperback
I recently saw a review of Louise Glück's "The Seven Ages." With a kind of innocent wantonness, the reviewer dismissed the worthiness of Gluck's collective output, and flatly declared the book to be without idea, philosophy, pleasure.
In a perfect world, people would be shot for less, and organ procurement teams notified.
Glück strips. She prefers elemental language---hers is a hard-body and athletic poetry---but her sparsity never short-changes emotional impact, borealistic or far subtler. To wit, from "Youth;"
"My sister and I at two ends of the sofa,
reading (I suppose) English novels.
The television on; various schoolbooks open,
or places marked with sheets of lined paper.
Euclid, Pythagoras. As though we had looked into
the origin of thought and preferred novels."
Her subject matter, if not the whole of the world and us in it, frequently takes the form of love---real love, passionate love, the opiate kind come riding zephyrs, powerful enough to border hystericism, such is its biological power. This focus also includes at times the unhappy aftermath, such as is found in "The Balcony":
"It was a night like this, at the end of summer.
We had rented, I remember, a room with a balcony.
How many days and nights? Five, perhaps-no more.
Even when we weren't touching we were making love.
We stood on our little balcony in the summer night.
And off somewhere, the sounds of human life.
We were the soon to be anointed monarchs,
well disposed to our subjects. Just beneath us,
sounds of a radio playing, an aria we didn't in those years know.
Someone dying of love. Someone from whom time had taken
the only happiness, who was alone now,
impoverished, without beauty.
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Format: Paperback
"Earth will seduce you," Gluck writes in The Seven Ages, "It will ravish you, it will not keep you alive." In her ninth collection, Gluck reflects on entering her fifth decade, and looking back on a life of pleasures and disappoints, ponders what it was all about. What makes it worth it? Her simplicity and quiet tone places immense pressure on every line, so that we feel the authority of her statements as if listening to a prophet.

The moments that she chooses to reflect on are ordinary ones, though they are invested with enormous power and significance. These include standing in her grandmother's kitchen, watching her make a fruit punch, "aroma of summer fruit, intensity of concentration: the colored liquid turning gradually lighter more radiant, more light passing through it. Delight, then solace." A moment like this is turned into a transcendent meditation where "the self disappears into it or inseparable from it, somehow suspended, floating, its needs fully exposed, awakened, fully alive." (The Sensual World). In "Eros," she writes, "I had drawn my chair to the hotel window, to watch the rain. I was in a kind of dream or trace--in love, and yet I wanted nothing." To read this poetry is to enter into meditation with the poet, utterly absorbed in the present, lost in the simplest objects--rain, wind, a flower petal, light, to become a mind utterly sated by the grandeur of existence.

This hunger to know the moment, to pursue eternity in every breath, is heightened with the realization of impending death. Even though the mind wants to live and relive all its exultations, "The body continues like the path of an arrow as it has to, to live.
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Format: Paperback
The Seven Ages is another amazing collection by Louise Gluck. Disagreeing with what is said in the blurb of my Carcanet edition, which says this book is the "strangest" and "most bold" (to date of publication), a lot of poems in The Seven Ages are relatively more accessible than those in Wild Iris.

Readers have to slow down to read Louise Gluck to enjoy how the poet inserts pauses and controls the rhythm of her works, therefore focusing on the key element on each line, be it a verb, a noun, or even a punctuation mark. This is what I fall in love with her poetry after reading A Village Life, her latest full-length collection. I could allow myself some quiet time and be guided by her craft and wisdom.

The first half of the book contains many strong pieces, while a few in the second half (which I less like) are a bit convoluted or could further be tightened in my personal views. Yet, just reading how Gluck opens her poems and the way she jungles simple poetic diction is enlightening. My favorite examples from The Seven Ages include:

"I even loved a few times in my disgusting human way / and like everyone I called that accomplishment" ("The Seven Ages")

"And from out of nowhere lovers came, / people who still had bodies and hearts. Who still had / arms, legs, mouths, although by day they might be / housewives and businessmen." ("Moonbeam")

"Familiar, recognizable, but much more deeply alone, more despondent. / She does not, in her view, meet the definition / of child, a person with everything to look forward to." ("Birthday")

"We had only a few days, but they were very long." ("The Destination")

"Even when we weren't touching we were making love." ("The Balcony")

"Sickness, gray rain. The dogs slept through it.
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