Solitude

by Louise Gluck

It’s very dark today; through the rain,
the mountain isn’t visible. The only sound
is rain, driving life underground.
And with the rain, cold comes.
There will be no moon tonight, no stars.

The wind rose at night;
all morning it lashed against the wheat –
at noon it ended. But the storm went on,
soaking the dry fields, then flooding them –

The earth has vanished.
There’s nothing to see, only the rain
gleaming against the dark windows.
This is the resting place, where nothing moves –

Now we return to what we were,
animals living in darkness
without language or vision –

Nothing proves I’m alive.
There is only the rain, the rain is endless.

Notes on the Poem

The title of Louise Glück's poem "Solitude" suggests something inviting and desirable. We can all use a little solitude and peace from time to time. Does the poem then take us into what the title leads us to expect? The opening lines suggest something harsher than the warm welcome of restful solitude. There is more a sense of almost claustrophobic isolation: "It's very dark today; through the rain, the mountain isn't visible. The only sound is rain, driving life underground." The largely monosyllabic simplicity of Glück's language is blunt and almost weary, as if the narrator cannot muster too many longer words to describe her situation. The repetition of "dark" and "no" and "nothing" and especially "rain" becomes increasingly desperate in its monotony. As each successive stanza diminishes in length, it's as if the narrator is running out of ideas, patience, breath ... This solitude, if you can call it that, is suffused with despair and depression. Does anything in this perhaps ironically titled poem tell you otherwise?

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