Like the last stanza of Edmund Waller’s “Go, lovely Rose,” this poem gets to the heart of things with such speed and economy.
Dearest love: The roses are in bloom again,
cream and rose, to either side of the brick walk.
I pass among them with my white umbrella
as the sun beats down upon the oval plots like pools
in the grass, willows and the grove
of statuary. So the days go by. Fine days
I take my tea beneath the elm
half turned, as though you were beside me saying
Flowers that could take your breath away . . .
And always on the tray
a rose, and always the sun branded on the river
and the men in summer suits, in linen, and the girls,
their skirts circled in shadow . . . Last night
I dreamed that you did not return.
Today is fair. The little maid filled a silver bowl
shaped like a swan with roses for my bedside,
with the dark red they call Brennende Liebe,
which I find so beautiful.
Louise Glück is the author of eleven books of poems and a collection of essays. Her many awards include the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Critics Circle Award, the Bollingen Prize for Poetry, and the Wallace Stevens Award from the Academy of American Poets. She teaches at Yale University and lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Janet Malcolm is the acclaimed author of many books, including In the Freud Archives, The Journalist and the Murderer, Iphigenia in Forest Hills: Anatomy of a Murder Trial; Two Lives: Gertrude and Alice (for which she received the PEN/Jacqueline Bograd Weld Award for Biography); and Burdock, a volume of her photographs of a “rank weed.” Her most recent collection of essays, Forty-One False Starts, was a National Book Critics Circle Award Finalist. She is a frequent contributor to The New Yorker and The New York Review of Books.