Vespers ["Once I believed in you..."]

By Louise Glück b. 1943 Louise Gluck
Once I believed in you; I planted a fig tree.
Here, in Vermont, country
of no summer. It was a test: if the tree lived,
it would mean you existed.

By this logic, you do not exist. Or you exist
exclusively in warmer climates,
in fervent Sicily and Mexico and California,
where are grown the unimaginable
apricot and fragile peach. Perhaps
they see your face in Sicily; here we barely see
the hem of your garment. I have to discipline myself
to share with John and Noah the tomato crop.

If there is justice in some other world, those
like myself, whom nature forces
into lives of abstinence, should get
the lion's share of all things, all
objects of hunger, greed being
praise of you. And no one praises
more intensely than I, with more
painfully checked desire, or more deserves
to sit at your right hand, if it exists, partaking
of the perishable, the immortal fig,
which does not travel.

Louise Glück, “Vespers [once I believed in you]” from The Wild Iris. Copyright ©1992 by Louise Glück. Reprinted with permission of Ecco Press.

Source: The Wild Iris (The Ecco Press, 1992)

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Poet Louise Glück b. 1943

POET’S REGION U.S., New England

Subjects Religion, Living, Disappointment & Failure, Faith & Doubt, Nature, Home Life, Relationships, Trees & Flowers

Poetic Terms Pastoral

 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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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Religion, Living, Disappointment & Failure, Faith & Doubt, Nature, Home Life, Relationships, Trees & Flowers

POET’S REGION U.S., New England

Poetic Terms Pastoral

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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