Poem of the Day: ‘Vespers (End of August)’ by Louise Glück


End of August. Heat
like a tent over
John’s garden. And some things
have the nerve to be getting started,
clusters of tomatoes, stands
of late lilies – optimism
of the great stalks – imperial
gold and silver: but why
start anything
so close to the end?

Tomatoes that will never ripen, lilies
winter will kill, that won’t
come back in spring. Or
are you thinking
I spend too much time
looking ahead, like
an old woman wearing
sweaters in summer;
are you saying I can
flourish, having
no hope
of enduring? Blaze of the red check, glory
of the open throat, white,
spotted with crimson.

Photo Credit: Gaspar Tringale

Considered by many to be one of America’s most talented contemporary poets, Louise Glück (b. 1943) is known for her poetry’s technical precision, sensitivity, and insight into loneliness, family relationships, divorce, time, and death. The poet Robert Hass has called her “one of the purest and most accomplished lyric poets now writing.” In 2020 she was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature “for her unmistakable poetic voice that with austere beauty makes individual existence universal.” This poem is included in her Pulitzer Prize-winning book of poems, The Wild Iris (1992).

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