“Lamentations” consists of four brief lyric poem sequences in free verse. Each sequence has its own title: “The Logos,” “Nocturne,” “The Covenant,” and “The Clearing.” Individual sequences contain from three to four stanzas each. These vary from two to seven lines in length, and the lines themselves mimic the stanzas through the economy of words used.
The title of this poem, “Lamentations,” suggests mourning for something irrevocably lost. It especially recalls the Old Testament’s Hebrew prophets lamenting the folly of the Children of Israel and their resultant separation from Jehovah. There are also correspondences between Louise Glück’s sequence titles and the New Testament gospel of Saint John. For example, the title of the first sequence, “The Logos,” recalls John’s story of Jesus Christ, as the gospel of John opens with the phrase, “In the beginning was the Word.” One definition of “word” in this context is the Greek word logos. “The Logos” can be described as cosmic reason or, according to ancient Greek philosophy, as the source of world order and intelligibility. The title of “The Logos” therefore suggests a story of cosmic origins and mythical figures that echoes both Greek and Christian mythology. Indeed, the poem’s first stanza describes archetypal figures of a woman—described as “mournful”—and a man. These figures in turn recall the Genesis story of the Garden of Eden and the...
(The entire section is 558 words.)