Essay about Wild Iris by Louise Elisabeth Gluck

Essay about Wild Iris by Louise Elisabeth Gluck

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Louise Elisabeth Gluck’s “Wild Iris” connects the experience of the cyclical process of death to the natural life cycle of a wild flower. Gluck begins the poem with the end of “suffering” then refers back to death (1). A wild iris dies after its “burial in the dark earth”, but blooms again the following spring. Gluck relates this process to human suffering and death to suggest that humans should not agonize about the natural, yet beautiful process of death and rebirth. People fear death, but Gluck comforts the reader by relating death to nature- a powerful, never-failing force. The poem is written in first person point of view, but it should not be assumed that Louise Gluck herself is the speaker of the poem. The speaker of the poem could be the wild flower asa it talks about being “buried in the dark earth” (11). The poem concludes with the promise that the wild iris will speak a universal language. Once that unique voice is found, suffering will end, and joy will flow form the center of life like a fountain. Through Gluck’s poem, “Wild Iris”, the agony of death and suffering is reassured by relating the process to the life cycle of a wild flower.
Gluck’s underlying view of death is exposed through the themes of suffering, voice, and transformation. The theme of suffering is expressed throughout the entire poem. Although Gluck’s first line of the poem gives the reader hope that suffering will end, the speaker makes the point that suffering is inevitable. The speaker of the poem never defines suffering, but it can be concluded through the context of the poem that it is long term physical and emotional distress and agony. In line 8, Gluck says that “it is terrible to survive”. Suffering leads to despair and sometimes that burden...


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...k, Louise. "The Wild Iris." The English Review 15.4 (2005): 42. Literature Resource Center. Web. 6 Apr. 2014.
"Iris." Encyclopaedia Britannica. Encyclopaedia Britannica Online. Encyclopædia Britannica 6Inc., 2014. Web. 06 Apr. 2014.
"Louise Gluck." Poetry Foundation. Poetry Foundation, 2010. Web. 6 Apr. 2014.
Schneider, Jessica. "These Old Poems." Cosmoetica. Schneider, 29 Aug 2002. Web. 6 Apr 2014.
Upton, Lee. "Glück, Louise 1943—." American Writers: A Collection of Literary Biographies, Supplement 5. Ed. Jay Parini. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 2000. 77-94. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Web. 6 Apr. 2014.
Vendler, Helen. "Flower Power." The New Republic 208.21 (24 May 1993): 35-38. Rpt. in Contemporary Literary Criticism. Ed. James P. Draper and Jeffery Chapman. Vol. 81. Detroit: Gale Research, 1994. Literature Resource Center. Web. 6 Apr. 2014.

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