Louise Glück’s lyrical voice springs up from the deep recesses of her soul onto the essence of the flowers, the spirits and to god. The meditative contemplation of what it means to be alive and crossing to the conflicting feelings of fitting your life in the confines of the reality of death. She undresses it all delicately plucking the shadows off of the petals, the days, and the seasons.
A rebirth happens, “hear me out: that which you call death I remember” (The Wild Iris). Glück goes on to speak to god as a monk who toils in god’s garden in prayers, poems she names “Matins”. God responds, and so do the spirits residing in the garden, near the flowers, “you are all the same to us, solitary, standing above us planning your silly lives…” (Scilla). Glück seems to make god’s voice as a resentful entity, a little indifferent to the suffering because in the end its not that god doesn’t care, it’s because our lives are meant to be lived, “you wanted everything told to you and nothing thought through yourselves” (Retreating Light).
It’s interesting how when we come to deal with our mortality, we will extend our hands and point accusingly to a god we make up on our own. Through each poem Glück progresses with this idea, unraveling our human condition to want everything spelled out, “we do not grieve as you grieve, dear suffering master; you are more lost than we are” (Violets). Identifying a great entity as something like us, grabbing them by the ear and scolding them for our existence. In Daises, she plainly argues, “the garden is not the real world. Machines are the real world” as a reciprocation to this god who says, “all this belongs to you: on the other hand, I planted the seeds”.
This argument that bounces like light illuminating these ideas of the world as god’s garden; humans as the creation, and the humble servant monk trying to find a connection to this hard work and its meaning to this god. I think The Wild Iris is such a beautiful collection of poetry, a lyrical meditation on the soul’s longing to reach out its arms to touch this god we’ve been told about.
In my opinion our maker is not some man crossed arms in judgement of his creation, the true god is not like us at all but is an entity that manifests through the bloom and perpetual seeding of life. It’s up to us, through our own observation, aware of the soul residing in us, to speak to god in time. And Louise Glück’s The Wild Iris gives us a glimpse of how that conversation might go. It might be different for everyone, and that’s the beauty in searching within and trying to make sense of what is presented to us as faith and how then we interpret and unravel it in the language of our own individual souls.