Friday, September 30, 2005

The Undertaking

The darkness lifts, imagine, in your lifetime.
There you are - cased in clean bark you drift
through weaving rushes, fields flooded with cotton.
You are free. The river films with lilies,
shrubs appear, shoots thicken into palm. And now
all fear gives way: the light
looks after you, you feel the waves' goodwill
as arms widen over the water; Love

the key is turned. Extend yourself -
it is the Nile, the sun is shining,
everywhere you turn is luck.

Louise Gluck: The House on Marshland

I discovered this poem, and Louise Gluck, thanks to Poems on the Underground, in the mid-1990s. I find it magical. Pure expansiveness, relaxation and joy. And yet, is it about death?

I went to Egypt, on a Nile cruise, a few years ago. As the river flowed by and the reeds and fields and waterfowl came into view, then disappeared, I carried the poem with me.


Blogger Jean said...

I love the photo, and the poem. Don't know Louise Gluck, but I'll be looking out for her work. And a bit miffed that you're name is not usually Mary! i don't know why. Why should we always go by the ame name, why not give different aspects of ourselves in different situations? Something to think about.

10:17 am  
Blogger Mary said...

Hi Jean: The main reason (aside from ever-present latent paranoia :-)) that I choose to remain anonymous is because of my membership of a 12-step recovery fellowship, where a certain level of anonymity is recommended at the public level.

I did wonder whether I should simply not mention the fact of my membership at all, but decided it would be leaving out a huge chunk of me which I might want to write about .. and which I am not sure I would want any future potential employer to read here first!

So I have gone for a middle route -Mary is in fact one of my names but not the one most people know me by.

Hope this helps - but I am by no means alone in my anonymity in the blogosphere I think.

1:31 pm  
Blogger MB said...

No, you are not alone. It's not easy to choose where to draw the lines. I liked the poem very much, and the photo, and am envious of your having the underground let alone underground poetry!

4:52 pm  
Blogger Dave said...

Louise Gluck's The Wild Iris is, for my money, one of the most satisfying collections of poetry in the English language, ever. Her other books aren't too shabby, either, though sometimes I find her tone a bit too severe.

Here via This Too. Very nice blog!

7:44 pm  
Blogger Mary said...

Dave. Thank you. A pleasure to have you here - I am a real admirer of your blog.

On the strength of The Undertaking I went out and bought The First Five Books of Poems. The Wild Iris isn't included in this collection but on your recommendation I will track it down. She has been a revelation for me. I had never heard of her previously.

5:39 am  

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