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Can't You See?




For all her passion, La Perichole did not have love in her eyes.

There can be none so blind who will not see.

Thornton Wilder, The Bridge of San Luis Rey





Three Poems by Louise Gluck in Vita Nova


U n w r i t t e n L a w



Interesting how we fall in love:
in my case, absolutely. Absolutely, and, alas, often--
so it was in my youth.
And always with rather boyish men--
informed, sullen, or shyly kicking the dead leaves:
in the manner of Balanchine.
Nor did I see them as versions of the same thing.
I, with my inflexible Platonism,
my fierce seeing of only one thing at a time:
I ruled against the indefinite article.
And yet, the mistakes of my youth
made me hopeless, because they repeated themselves,
as is commonly true.
But in you I felt something beyond the archetype--
a true expansiveness, a buoyance and love of the earth
utterly alien to my nature. To my credit,
I blessed my good fortune in you.
Blessed it absolutely, in the manner of those years.
And you in your wisdom and cruelty
gradually taught me the meaninglessness of that term.


* * *




E u r y d i c e



Eurydice went back to hell.
What was difficult
was the travel, which,
on arrival, is forgotten.

Transition
is difficult.
And moving between two worlds
especially so;
the tension is very great.

A passage
filled with regret, with longing,
to which we have, in the world,
some slight access or memory.

Only for a moment
when the dark of the underworld
settled around her again
(gentle, respectful),
only for a moment could
an image of earth's beauty
reach her again, beauty
for which she grieved.

But to live with human faithlessness
is another matter.


* * *





L a m e n t



A terrible thing is happening--my love
is dying again, my love who has died already:
died and been mourned. And the music continues,
music of separation: the trees
become instruments.

How cruel the earth, the willows shimmering,
the birches bending and sighing.
How cruel, how profoundly tender.

My love is dying: my love
not only a person, but an idea, a life.

What will I live for?
Where will I find him again
if not in grief, dark wood
from which the lute is made.

Once is enough. Once is enough
to say goodbye on earth.
And to grieve, that too, of course.
Once is enough to say goodbye forever.

The willows shimmer by the stone fountain,
paths of flowers abutting.

Once is enough: why is he living again?
And so briefly, and only in dream.

My love is dying; parting has started again.
And through the veils of the willows
sunlight rising and glowing,
not the light we knew.
And the birds singing again, even the mourning dove.

Ah, I have sung this song. By the stone fountain
wth willows are singing again
with unspeakable tenderness, trailing their leaves
in the radiant water.

Clearly they know, they know. He is dying again,
and the world also. Dying the rest of my life,
so I believe.





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