A Poem for Halloween

Jack O’ Lanterns

Here is a poem redolent of the season by the U.S.’s new Nobel Prize Winner in Literature for 2020: Louise Glück.

All Hallows

Even now this landscape is assembling.
The hills darken. The oxen
sleep in their blue yoke,
the fields having been
picked clean, the sheaves
bound evenly and piled at the roadside
among cinquefoil, as the toothed moon rises:

This is the barrenness
of harvest or pestilence.
And the wife leaning out the window
with her hand extended, as in payment,
and the seeds
distinct, gold, calling
Come here
Come here, little one

And the soul creeps out of the tree.

Poet Louise Glück

“Field Flowers”

“certainly / you don’t look at us”

I was eating lunch at the Westfield Mall in Culver City when I was struck by a few lines from a poem by Louise Glück which originally appeared in The New Yorker on February 16, 1992. When I got home, I hunted down the full text of the poem and decided to share it with you here:

Field Flowers

what are you saying? that you want
eternal life? are your thoughts really
as compelling as all that? certainly
you don’t look at us, don’t listen to us,
on your skin
stain of sun, dust
of yellow buttercups: i’m talking
to you, you staring through
bars of high grass shaking
your little rattle—o
the soul! the soul! is it enough
only to look inward? contempt
for humanity is one thing, but why
disdain the expansive
field, your gaze rising over the clear heads
of the wild buttercups into what? your poor
idea of heaven: absence
of change. better than earth? how
would you know, who are neither
here nor there, standing in our midst?

There is something about this poem, with its view of humanity from the point of view of wildflowers. I thought it was nicely done.