Louise Glück – two poems

The Pond

Night covers the pond with its wing.

Under the ringed moon I can make out

your face swimming among minnows and the small

echoing stars. In the night air

the surface of the pond is metal.


Within, your eyes are open. They contain

a memory I recognize, as though

we had been children together. Our ponies

grazed on the hill, they were gray

with white markings. Now they graze

with the dead who wait

like children under their granite breastplates,

lucid and helpless:


The hills are far away. They rise up

blacker than childhood.

What do you think of, lying so quietly

by the water? When you look that way I want

to touch you, but do not, seeing

as in another life we were of the same blood.



You have only to wait, they will find you.

The geese flying low over the marsh,

glittering in black water.

They find you.


And the deer –

how beautiful they are,

as though their bodies did not impede them.

Slowly they drift into the open

through bronze panels of sunlight.


Why would they stand so still

if they were not waiting?

Almost motionless, until their cages rust,

the shrubs shiver in the wind,

squat and leafless.


You have only to let it happen:

that cry – release, release – like the moon

wrenched out of earth and rising

full in its circle of arrows


until they come before you

like dead things, saddled with flesh,

and you above them, wounded and dominant.



(both poems taken from The House on the Marshland, a collection by Louise Glück published in 1975)

(note: I inserted underscores in order to break the stanzas, for some reason wordpress wants to condense the stanzas into one big thing)


Glück, Louise. The First Four Books of Poems. Hopewell, NJ: Ecco, 1995. Print.

About Michael Johnson

michaeljohnson.studio thewindandthestones.com viewfromaburrow.com

One comment

  1. I love The Pond by Gluck, its perhaps my favorite poem of all time. All the years I’ve known it, and have gone over it again and again, I’m still not sure what it must’ve meant for the author, or what her intent is, but I do know that it invokes some resonant imagery for me that resembles something that could be called painful nostalgia. I know poets won’t ever discuss their poems, or what they meant to them, but I’d love to be able to talk to Gluck about that particular poem.

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