Wild Iris By Louise Elisabeth Gluck

1857 words - 8 pages

Louise Elisabeth Gluck’s “Wild Iris” connects the experience of the cyclical process of death to the natural life cycle of a wild flower. Gluck begins the poem with the end of “suffering” then refers back to death (1). A wild iris dies after its “burial in the dark earth”, but blooms again the following spring. Gluck relates this process to human suffering and death to suggest that humans should not agonize about the natural, yet beautiful process of death and rebirth. People fear death, but Gluck comforts the reader by relating death to nature- a powerful, never-failing force. The poem is written in first person point of view, but it should not be assumed that Louise Gluck herself is the speaker of the poem. The speaker of the poem could be the wild flower asa it talks about being “buried in the dark earth” (11). The poem concludes with the promise that the wild iris will speak a universal language. Once that unique voice is found, suffering will end, and joy will flow form the center of life like a fountain. Through Gluck’s poem, “Wild Iris”, the agony of death and suffering is reassured by relating the process to the life cycle of a wild flower.
Gluck’s underlying view of death is exposed through the themes of suffering, voice, and transformation. The theme of suffering is expressed throughout the entire poem. Although Gluck’s first line of the poem gives the reader hope that suffering will end, the speaker makes the point that suffering is inevitable. The speaker of the poem never defines suffering, but it can be concluded through the context of the poem that it is long term physical and emotional distress and agony. In line 8, Gluck says that “it is terrible to survive”. Suffering leads to despair and sometimes that burden is worse than death. In line 12, the speaker says a major fear is “being a soul and unable to speak”. The speaker suggests that the only cure to life’s suffering is finding a unique voice. A voice is the only way to express innermost thoughts and feelings. Without a voice, a person cannot create social or emotional relationships with others or even a higher power. In the first line of the poem, Gluck grabs the readers attention by saying “hear me out”. This line is very important as the speaker is ready to tell about the power of words through personal experience. In “Wild Iris”, Gluck’s theme of voice is also a symbol of power. Everyone has a unique voice of their own as it serves as their personal identity. Therefore, the inability to speak turns in to suffering, torture, and emotional death. When a voice is found, thoughts and feelings pour out of the “center of life like a great fountain” and all suffering will end (22). Another thematic element in “Wild Iris” is the theme of transformation. The death of a wild flower is not an end, as it is only born again next spring. Death is a change that we cannot control, much like the seasons. The poem revolves around emotional and spiritual transformation. In lines 1 and...

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