A Fable

By Louise Glück b. 1943 Louise Gluck
Two women with
the same claim
came to the feet of
the wise king. Two women,
but only one baby.
The king knew
someone was lying.
What he said was
Let the child be
cut in half; that way
no one will go
empty-handed. He
drew his sword.
Then, of the two
women, one
renounced her share:
this was
the sign, the lesson.
Suppose
you saw your mother
torn between two daughters:
what could you do
to save her but be
willing to destroy
yourself—she would know
who was the rightful child,
the one who couldn’t bear
to divide the mother.

"A Fable" by Louise Glück, from Ararat. Copyright © 1990 by Louise Glück. Used by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, www.harpercollins.com.

Source: Ararat (The Ecco Press, 1990)

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Poet Louise Glück b. 1943

Subjects Family & Ancestors, Living, Relationships, Mythology & Folklore, Parenthood

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 Louise  Glück

Biography

Louise Glück is considered by many to be one of America’s most talented contemporary poets. The poet Robert Hass has called her “one of the purest and most accomplished lyric poets now writing,” and her poetry is noted for its technical precision, sensitivity and insight into loneliness, family relationships, divorce, and death. Frequently described as “spare,” James K. Robinson in Contemporary Women Poets also noted that . . .

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SUBJECT Family & Ancestors, Living, Relationships, Mythology & Folklore, Parenthood

Poetic Terms Free Verse

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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