In “Primavera,” Louise Glück’s fascination with both pastoral scenes and the devastation of loss coalesces in a vision of springtime somewhere, perhaps in a field, where “someone has drawn a picture of the sun.” No one has signed the image; the gesture is anonymous, just as the poet imagines every effort will be at the end of the world. Still, “the artist intends a mood of celebration.” Glück’s mode of lamentation was her signature, and it seems fitting that one of her poems occasions the end of this column, after nine years. The magazine is deeply indebted to its poetry editors — Natasha Trethewey, Matthew Zapruder, Terrance Hayes, Rita Dove, Naomi Shibab Nye, Reginald Dwayne Betts, Victoria Chang and Anne Boyer — for their work curating this column and celebrating the dynamism of life and language.
Credit…Illustration by R. O. Blechman
By Louise Glück
Spring comes quickly: overnight
the plum tree blossoms,
the warm air fills with bird calls.
In the plowed dirt, someone has drawn a picture of
with rays coming out all around
but because the background is dirt, the sun is black.
There is no signature.
Alas, very soon everything will disappear:
the bird calls, the delicate blossoms. In the end,
even the earth itself will follow the artist’s name into
Nevertheless, the artist intends
a mood of celebration.
How beautiful the blossoms are — emblems of the
resilience of life.
The birds approach eagerly.
Louise Glück(1943-2023) was the author of two collections of essays and 13 books of poems. Her many awards included the Nobel Prize in Literature; the National Humanities Medal; the Pulitzer Prize, for “The Wild Iris”; the National Book Award, for “Faithful and Virtuous Night”; the National Book Critics Circle Award, for “The Triumph of Achilles”; the Bollingen Prize for Poetry; the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, for “Poems 1962-2012”; and the Wallace Stevens Award, from the Academy of American Poets. She taught at Yale University and Stanford University and lived in Cambridge, Mass., and Montpelier, Vt.