Poetry Month 2012. 24: Sunset

I’m not familiar with Louise Glück’s work, though her name crops up often as a recommended read by poets highlighted in the PBS Bulletin.

I can’t find her in the Bradford Libraries Catalogue. I’m tempted to blame the umlaut, but of course it may just be that she’s an American poet, and Bradford is not in America.

In any case, the first time I read this poem I thought nothing of it. However it keeps catching my eye, and after several reads I now like it quite a lot.

It’s from her most recent collection, A Village Life.


     At the same time as the sun’s setting,
     a farm worker’s burning dead leaves.

     It’s nothing, this fire.
     It’s a small thing, controlled,
     like a family run by a dictator.

     Still, when it blazes up, the farm worker disappears;
     from the road, he’s invisible.

     Compared to the sun, all the fires here
     are short-lived, amateurish –
     they end when the leaves are gone.
     Then the farm worker reappears, raking the ashes.

     But the death is real.
     As though the sun’s done what it came to do,
     made the field grow, then
     inspired the burning of earth.

     So it can set now.

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