Monday, August 4, 2014

The Sensual World by Louise Glück

Got this remarkable, astonishing book, "The Seven Ages" by Louise Glück for a nickel at McKay Used Books in Nashville, TN last week.  Truly, the best bargain I've made all year.  What a book.  Louise Glück is a breathtaking poet---a word magician...

By Louise Glück

I call to you across a monstrous river or chasm
to caution you, to prepare you.

Earth will seduce you, slowly, imperceptibly,
subtly, not to say with connivance.

I was not prepared: I stood in my grandmother’s kitchen,
holding out my glass. Stewed plums, stewed apricots–

the juice poured off into the glass of ice.
And the water added, patiently, in small increments,

the various cousins discriminating, tasting
with each addition–

aroma of summer fruit, intensity of concentration:
the colored liquid turning gradually lighter, more radiant,

more light passing through it.
Delight, then solace. My grandmother waiting,

to see if more was wanted. Solace, then deep immersion.
I loved nothing more: deep privacy of the sensual life,

the self disappearing into it or inseparable from it,
somehow suspended, floating, its needs

fully exposed, awakened, fully alive–
Deep immersion, and with it

mysterious safety. Far away, the fruit glowing it its glass bowls.
Outside the kitchen, the sun setting.

I was not prepared: sunset, end of summer. Demonstrations
of time as a continuum, as something coming to an end,

not a suspension: the senses wouldn’t protect me.
I caution you as I was never cautioned:

you will never let go, you will never be satiated.
You will be damaged and scarred, you will continue to hunger.

Your body will age, you will continue to need.
You will want the earth, then more of the earth–

Sublime, indifferent, it is present, it will not respond.
It is encompassing, it will not minister.

Meaning, it will feed you, it will ravish you,
it will not keep you alive.

From:  "The Seven Ages" by Louise Gluck


We were in Nashville last week visiting family and I didn't go online once.'s August, y'all, and it's lazy, rainy, humid days here in the swamp. I planted my tomatoes late this year and I've got three huge plants loaded with green tomatoes.  I'm patiently (& eagerly) waiting them out.  Usually by this time of year, the fresh tomatoes are all gone---I did read some, though, and bought some great new poetry books, of course!

So, you're probably asking, "What about her book title?"  I'll admit I had a vague recollection of reading parts of this in Shakespeare many moons ago, but I just had to find the poem to relate it to the book.  Here's the Bard himself, to entertain you:

The Seven Ages of Man 
William Shakespeare 

                                       All the world’s a stage,
        And all the men and women merely players;
        They have their exits and their entrances,
        And one man in his time plays many parts,                      
5      His acts being seven ages. At first the infant,
        Mewling and puking in the nurse’s arms;
        And then the whining schoolboy, with his satchel
        And shining morning face, creeping like snail
        Unwillingly to school. And then the lover, 
10    Sighing like furnace, with a woeful ballad
        Made to his mistress’ eyebrow. Then a soldier,
        Full of strange oaths, and bearded like the pard,
        Jealous in honor, sudden and quick in quarrel,
        Seeking the bubble reputation
15    Even in the cannon’s mouth. And then the justice,
        In fair round belly with good capon lined,
        With eyes severe and beard of formal cut,
        Full of wise saws and modern instances;
        And so he plays his part. The sixth age shifts
20    Into the lean and slippered pantaloon,
        With spectacles on nose and pouch on side;
        His youthful hose, well saved, a world too wide
        For his shrunk shank; and his big manly voice,
        Turning again toward childish treble, pipes
25    And whistles in his sound. Last scene of all,
        That ends this strange eventful history,
        Is second childishness and mere oblivion,
        Sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything.


The cutest coffee 'shop' ever at McKay's in Nashville, The Trailer Perk:

I love the sign---
Another fun thing in Nashville was the "Retro Sno Cone Truck".  We chased it for 2 days, but finally found it, thank goodness. The best sno-cone I've ever had.  You can find their schedule online with the most awesome flavors ever:
Happy August!
* * * * *
"The first week of August hangs at the very top of summer, the top of the live-long year, like the highest seat of a Ferris wheel when it pauses in its turning. The weeks that come before are only a climb from balmy spring, and those that follow a drop to the chill of autumn, but the first week of August is motionless, and hot. It is curiously silent, too, with blank white dawns and glaring noons, and sunsets smeared with too much color. Often at night there is lightning, but it quivers all alone." ~Natalie Babbitt, Tuck Everlasting
* * * * *
"One benefit of summer was that each day we had more light to read by." ~Jeannette Walls, The Glass Castle
* * * * *
"In summer, the song sings itself." ~William Carlos Williams

* * * * *

 "Deep summer is when laziness finds respectability." ~Sam Keen
* * * * *
"Summer-induced stupidity. That was the diagnosis, I decided as I made my way up the dirt path in the pouring rain."  ~Aimee Friedman, Sea Change
* * * * *
My glorious August Morning Glories.  They define morning for me.


erin said...

oh jesusgod, i can't read further than the first poem feeling i might be sick, burst into fire, weep, or all three. yes))))) holy holy, yes))))


Marion said...

Right, Erin, right!!?? I thought of you the minute I read this poem a few days ago. I felt the same way you did. I think I've lived my whole life just to get to this poem... xoxo

Kelly said...

Glad you had fun in Nashville! It was relatively cool here last week, but beginning to heat up again now. We still have a fair number of green tomatoes, but the first ones are really ripening and coming off now.

That morning glory is stunning!

Kelly said...

By the is your Mama doing? I still pray for her.

Marion said...

Thanks, Kelly. We never got that cooler weather, but it's not quite as humid. :-) Mama's doing pretty good. She quit smoking(!)after her stroke and is still able to live alone thanks to my sister helping her out and home health, etc. We saw her a few weeks ago and she was still her sassy self. She turned 85 in June. She's making me old. LOL! Thanks for asking about her. Love & Blessings...xoxo