Faithful and Virtuous Night by Louise Glück

… I was constantly
face-to-face with blankness, that
stepchild of the sublime,

which, it turns out,
has been both my subject and my medium.
(from “Afterword”)

Louise Glück’s latest book is a masterful meditation on existence and death, on the passage of all things — topics as old as any in this material world. Her poems cover this ground with an elegant, mysterious beauty.

Glück’s language is straight-forward and stately. She is not one to wear her heart on her sleeve, she is in fact arguing with it from time to time.

… each night my heart
protested its future, like a small child being deprived of a favorite toy.
But these farewells, I said, are the way of things.
And once more I alluded to the vast territory
opening to us with each valediction. And with that phrase I became
a glorious knight riding into the setting sun, and my heart
became the steed beneath me.
(from “An Adventure”)

Reading this book, and Ms. Glück’s work in general, provides a singular pleasure. With the calm assuredness in her voice and her relentless self-exploration and emotional cool, one feels she knows she is very good at her art. Her lovely, aching, surprising, and at times comic work is being shared, and appreciated, by the poet as well as the reader. The magic and the emotional force in this book come from that feeling of sharing a writer’s understanding that glorious thinking and writing is simply this — a sparkling moment shared as darkness closes in. The illumination is dazzling.