Essay on The Fear Of Burial By Louise Gluck

Essay on The Fear Of Burial By Louise Gluck

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When thinking of death, often one thinks of what might wait for them in any sort of afterlife they have come to believe in, or perhaps they envision not what they experience, but what their loved ones are left to feel after their passing. Less often does one pause to ponder what occurs between the moment of death and the burial of the body. The prevailing theory seems to be that within this time between “moving on” and death the spirit leaves the body and, while it may linger for a moment, the spirit quickly continues on to fulfill its existential desire. The few who have attempted to speculate about the body itself have never formed a theory in which the body is in a happy state. Often it is described as being afraid or alone, left to itself until such a time as it is collected to be mourned. Such is the case in Louise Glück’s poem “The Fear of Burial.” Glück (born 1943) served as US Poet Laureate from 2003 to 2004, and has received multiple notable awards for her poems that often include themes of, or relating to, death. In her poem “The Fear of Burial,” Glück alludes to humans’ natural fear of loss and abandonment as well as their aversion to change.
Throughout the entirety of the poem, Glück instills a sense of abandonment in her readers, even in the first line when the narrator is just beginning to describe the setting. Rather than writing the discovery of the body, the poem opens “[i]n the empty field, in the morning...” (line 1) leading to the belief that the body has lain in the field for a short time, perhaps since the early morning before the sun began to rise or the previous evening. However, later in the poem the body still lays in the field at night, still undiscovered. It is when the narrator says “[t]hink of the bod...


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... must face whatever comes next for them, the body is dependent on others and therefore experiences what is perhaps the lesser of the evils. The body has no choice but to lay in wait alone in its field, but when it has been collected it no longer will be released from its struggles and worldly concerns. The body is assured relief, whereas the spirit is not. At the end of the poem, the spirit must choose between continuing to live in its fear of change or undertake its great journey. What makes this poem so effective is that Glück presents to her readers a reality that is unavoidable and terrifying. Yet the reader, now aware of this reality can choose to face these same fears rather than wait to be consumed by them as the corpse and spirit did.



A severe psychiatric disorder with symptoms of emotional instability, detachment from reality, and withdrawal into the self

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