A Poem by Louise Glück on Her Birthday

Louise Glück born on April 22, 1943, in New York City and grew up on Long Island; American poet and essayist; winner of the 1993 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry for The Wild Iris; Library of Congress Special Bicentennial Consultant (2000-2002) and Poet Laureate (2003-2004); and 2014 National Book Award (Poetry) for Faithful and Virtuous Night. In 2020, she won the Nobel Prize in Literature. Her father was a Hungarian Jewish immigrant who helped invent and market the X-Acto Knife. She attended Sarah Lawrence College and Columbia University without graduating from either school. In her mid-twenties, she published her poetry collection Firstborn to mixed reviews. Glück has since published over a dozen collections which have been heaped with honors.

To read Louise Glück’s poem “Nostos” click:


by Louise Glück

There was an apple tree in the yard—
this would have been
forty years ago—behind,
only meadow. Drifts
of crocus in the damp grass.
I stood at that window:
late April. Spring
flowers in the neighbor’s yard.
How many times, really, did the tree
flower on my birthday,
the exact day, not
before, not after? Substitution
of the immutable
for the shifting, the evolving.
Substitution of the image
for relentless earth. What
do I know of this place,
the role of the tree for decades
taken by a bonsai, voices
rising from the tennis courts—
Fields. Smell of the tall grass, new cut.
As one expects of a lyric poet.
We look at the world once, in childhood.
The rest is memory.

“Nostos” from Meadowlands, © 1996 by Louise Glück – Ecco Press


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