Louise Gluck’s poem “The Mountain” begins, ”My students look at me expectantly.” Of course, this creates expectation in the reader. What do the students (and reader) expect? The next line clarifies; the question must be, What is the life of the artist?
"The life of art is a life
of endless labor."
By forcing “endless labor” into the next line using enjambment, the poet denies the students a short and easy answer. “Their expressions hardly change.” The students are still eager but perhaps don’t quite understand what the speaker is saying. The speaker jokes that the students might need to “know/ a little more about endless labor.” The lines stay relatively short until the speaker enters the world of myth.
Elaborating on the life of the artist in the next six lines, the speaker helps her students to understand the life of an artist by telling them about Sisyphus, who was “doomed to push/ a rock up a mountain.” The six enjambed lines about Sisyphus create the...
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