Twilight by Louise Glück

All day he works at his cousin’s mill,
so when he gets home at night, he always sits at this one window,
sees one time of day, twilight.
There should be more time like this, to sit and dream.
It’s as his cousin says:
Living—living takes you away from sitting.

In the window, not the world but a squared-off landscape
representing the world. The seasons change,
each visible only a few hours a day.
Green things followed by golden things followed by whiteness—
abstractions from which come intense pleasures,
like the figs on the table.

At dusk, the sun goes down in a haze of red fire between two poplars.
It goes down late in summer—sometimes it’s hard to stay awake.

Then everything falls away.
The world for a little longer
is something to see, then only something to hear,
crickets, cicadas.
Or to smell sometimes, aroma of lemon trees, of orange trees.
Then sleep takes this away also.

But it’s easy to give things up like this, experimentally,
for a matter of hours.

I open my fingers—
I let everything go.

Visual world, language,
rustling of leaves in the night,
smell of high grass, of woodsmoke.

I let it go, then I light the candle.

Twilight

As you may have heard, last week Louise Glück won the Nobel Prize for poetry, no small recognition of her work. ‘Twilight’ is the first of her poems that I heard, spoken at a poetry retreat I attended some years ago, the first in a collection called A Village Life. Something about the atmosphere she created with her words captured my imagination and has stayed with me.

Right in the first stanza she tells us in the cousin’s voice: There should be more time like this, to sit and dream. And then, Living—living takes you away from sitting. She had me right there – the incompatibility of sitting and dreaming with what we call living.

The seasons visible through a squared-off landscape / representing the world – can you not see this through a window of your own, and how it changes? Not the world but a representation of the world which is all we can ever see wherever we are.

Then everything falls away – what we see, hear, smell until sleep takes this away also, where we can give it all up for a few hours, letting it all go. This lovely Visual world, language, / rustling of leaves in the night, / smell of high grass, of woodsmoke. So evocative, dream-like yet in the present.

Finally what we each can do: I let it go, then I light the candle. Lighting a candle to this calm moment of reflection. May you make time to sit and dream in the midst of this living.

13 thoughts on “Twilight by Louise Glück

  1. Before opening your note, turned my calendar page and on it was featured the line “Come to the sunset tree! The day is past and gone.” a poem by Felicia Hemans – love synchronicities like this, love your sharing – thanks so much Jan!

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  2. This may sound strange but I have a staring bed – keeping with Melodie’s concept of her staring couch…. In the morning I often spend my first waking moments looking out a bedroom window from my bed. The sky and trees greet me at dawn and present me with my first glimpse of the day. This poem evoked that for me in a special way.
    Thank you Jan💖

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  3. thank you so much for this, Jan. I must be longing for more sitting as these lines touched me deeply. There should be more time like this, to sit and dream.

    Living—living takes you away from sitting. Margaret 613-725-6941 h 613-795-9879 c

    Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.

    – Oscar Wilde.

    >

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  4. I am lighting a calendar in the daylight. Inspired by your sharing of Twilight — and sitting — and dreaming — and loving life and you.

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