Posts Tagged ‘the night sky’

After looking through a telescope Louise Glück identified with the silent enormity of the stars

April 28, 2019

I recently discovered poets writing about telescopes, like Ted Kooser and Kenneth Rexroth, what they saw through them, and how they were transformed by the experience. Here is a poem called Telescope (Averno: Poems) by Pulitzer Prize winner (1993) Louise Glück. It was among the poems she read during a Lannan Literary Event (May 11, 2016).

The Great Cluster in the constellation Hercules


There is a moment after you move your eye away
when you forget where you are
because you’ve been living, it seems,
somewhere else, in the silence of the night sky.

You’ve been stopped being here in the world.
You’re in a different place,
a place where human life has no meaning.

You’re not a creature in a body.
You exist as the stars exist,
participating in their stillness, their immensity.

Then you’re in the world again.
At night, on a cold hill,
taking the telescope apart.

You realize afterward
not that the image is false
but the relation is false.

You see again how far away
each thing is from every other thing.

Louise Glück

Louise Glück reads Telescope at a Lannan Literary Event

Kenneth Rexroth also describes a loss of body awareness and identifies with the enormity of the star-filled summer night sky while looking through a telescope. Here’s an excerpt from The Heart of Herakles.

My body is asleep. Only
My eyes and brain are awake.
The stars stand around me
Like gold eyes, I can no longer
Tell where I begin and leave off.

Breaking News from The Nobel Prize (Oct 8, 2020): The 2020 Nobel Prize in Literature is awarded to the American poet Louise Glück “for her unmistakable poetic voice that with austere beauty makes individual existence universal.” They posted these Biobibliographical notes.

Presentation of the 2020 Nobel Prize in Literature

Watch the very moment 2020 Literature Laureate Louise Glück received her Nobel Prize medal and diploma. Glück received the prize “for her unmistakable poetic voice that with austere beauty makes individual existence universal”. (This presentation took place over 2 months later still during the time of the coronavirus so she and her presenter were wearing masks.)

Read more about this poet in a Poets & Writers interview: Internal Tapestries: A Q&A With Louise Glück. (September/October 2014)

The heart of The Red Poppy in Louise Glück’s poem speaks to us from a different perspective

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