(Masterpieces of American Literature)

In a poem which begins and ends her book of the same name, Glück describes a past relationship that causes the speaker to reconsider her life by looking back at her childhood, when she remembers “laughter for no cause, simply because the world is beautiful” or “because the air is full of apple blossoms.” In such images of spring, as well as images of courtship (“young men buying tickets for the ferryboats” and “a young man [who] throws his hat into the water”), Glück describes “the moment vivid, intact” that causes her to wake “hungry for life, utterly confident.” Still, she recognizes her own mortality in the spring appearing “not as a lover but a messenger of death.” The message is “meant tenderly,” however, as a gentle reminder to seize the day.

The “Vita Nova” that ends the book recreates a scene from the failed relationship, with the couple arguing over who will get custody of their dog, Blizzard. The woman explains to the dog, as if he is a child, that “Daddy” is leaving “Mommy” because the kind of love he wants, she, “too ironic,” cannot give him.

After a surreal image of the dog growing into a poet, she concludes that “Life is very weird, no matter how it ends, very filled with dreams” and promises that she will never forget the image of her dog with his “frantic human eyes swollen with tears.” She thought her “life was over” and her “heart was broken.” Whether this is from the failed relationship, losing custody of the dog, or both is unclear, but she moves to Cambridge where, it is implied, she begins a new life.