“If to speak meant to repeat myself” : repetition in the later poetry of Louise Glück.

Date
2013-12
Authors
Schroeder, Amy E., 1986-
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Abstract

Louise Glück’s poetry is known for its affinity for change; each of Glück’s eleven poetic collections intentionally departs from her previous work, and Glück herself has written of her desire not to “repeat” herself. I will argue that in Glück’s later collections, she paradoxically relies on structures of repetition—titles, themes, forms, and syntax—to develop her meaning. By repeating the titles of “Matins” and “Vespers” throughout The Wild Iris (1992), Glück creates a “prayer sequence” of poems that—through its invocation of Divine Office—speaks to the tension between belief and unbelief. In Averno (2006) Glück re-tells the myth of Persephone, commenting on the ethics and goals of re-telling a “known” myth. Finally, in A Village Life (2009), Glück repeats and revises her poetic forms, signifying changes in her philosophies. Repetition, then, becomes essential to our understanding of Glück’s poetry—it is the foundation from which she enacts change.

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Keywords
Louise Glück., Religious rituals., Monastic prayer., Repetition., Twentieth-century poetry.
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