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Winner of the 2014 National Book Award for Poetry
A luminous, seductive new collection from the "fearless" (The New York Times) Pulitzer Prize–winning poet
Louise Glück is one of the finest American poets at work today. Her Poems 1962–2012 was hailed as "a major event in this country's literature" in the pages of The New York Times. Every new collection is at once a deepening and a revelation. Faithful and Virtuous Night is no exception.
You enter the world of this spellbinding book through one of its many dreamlike portals, and each time you enter it's the same place but it has been arranged differently. You were a woman. You were a man. This is a story of adventure, an encounter with the unknown, a knight's undaunted journey into the kingdom of death; this is a story of the world you've always known, that first primer where "on page three a dog appeared, on page five a ball" and every familiar facet has been made to shimmer like the contours of a dream, "the dog float[ing] into the sky to join the ball." Faithful and Virtuous Night tells a single story but the parts are mutable, the great sweep of its narrative mysterious and fateful, heartbreaking and charged with wonder.
Gl ck's 12th collection, her first since Poems 1962 2012, is one where myth, long a primary concern of hers, takes a backseat to more quotidian affairs. "Mist covered the stage (my life)./ Characters came and went, costumes were changed,/ my brush hand moved side to side/ far from the canvas,/ side to side," Gl ck writes, "I took a deep breath. And it came to me/ the person who drew that breath/ was not the person in my story." While readers familiar with Gl ck will recognize her voice, here she is more conversational, more grounded in the materiality of human experience: "First divesting ourselves of worldly goods," the book begins, "we had then to discuss/ whither or where we might travel, with the second question being/ should we have a purpose." Whether through long poems or short prose bursts, she returns to stillness and night as the baselines for human experience, stages upon which the human drama unfolds. "I was aware of movement around me, my fellow beings/ driven by a mindless fetish for action // How deeply I resisted this!" Gl ck notes, "truth as I saw it/ was expressed as stillness." Characteristically sure-footed, Gl ck speaks to our time in a voice that is onstage, but heard from the wings.