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Aubade - Louise Glück

The awarding of the Nobel prize always makes for healthy sport in the form of predictions, and discussions around “what is true art?” and which literary prophet’s heart or politics is in the right place. In these odd times, it served as effective distraction, with the usual lists making their presence, and the critics and enthusiasts placing their bets. When I was younger, winning the Nobel prize in literature was actually a real ambition for me, in the same way becoming a cricketer or road roller driver made for good childhood dream fodder. In time, obviously, this coveted award lost its sheen. Still, some of my favourite poets are Nobel laureates. I haven’t read enough poetry by this year’s Nobel laureate, Louise Glück, but I spent some time with her writing and discovered this beautiful little aubade or “dawn poem”, and a commentary by Walt Hunter in the Atlantic:


“One of the most striking qualities about the poetry of Louise Glück, who on Thursday won the Nobel Prize in Literature, is the way it returns again and again to the start of things—a story, a myth, a day, a marriage, a childhood. The question How do we begin anew? runs throughout the American poet’s work…Glück examines the human compulsion to retell stories and reimagine scenes; in the face of grief, sadness, and destruction, she asks, how can belief in new beginnings possibly still persist? Her poems, which rarely mark the present moment through political references or proper names, nonetheless resonate at a time when renewal—for individuals, for communities, for societies—can seem difficult to imagine.”


Louise Glück won the 2020 Nobel prize in literature for “her unmistakable poetic voice that with austere beauty makes individual existence universal.”


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