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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Louise Glück
Louise Glück
The author of numerous collections of poetry, Louise Glück is the recipient of many awards and served as a Chancellor for the Academy of American Poets and the Library of Congress's Poet Laureate...
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FURTHER READING
Poems about Innocence
A List of Praises
by Anne Porter
A Prayer for my Daughter
by W. B. Yeats
Auguries of Innocence
by William Blake
Chansons Innocentes: I
by E. E. Cummings
Essay on Adam
by Robert Bringhurst
Holy Innocents
by Christina Rossetti
Ontario
by Mark Levine
Part of Eve's Discussion
by Marie Howe
The Double Truth
by Chard deNiord
Related Prose
Video: The Miraculous Thing To Do
by Louise Glück
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The Myth of Innocence

 
by Louise Glück

One summer she goes into the field as usual
stopping for a bit at the pool where she often
looks at herself, to see
if she detects any changes. She sees
the same person, the horrible mantle
of daughterliness still clinging to her.

The sun seems, in the water, very close.
That's my uncle spying again, she thinks—
everything in nature is in some way her relative.
I am never alone, she thinks,
turning the thought into a prayer.
Then death appears, like the answer to a prayer.

No one understands anymore
how beautiful he was. But Persephone remembers.
Also that he embraced her, right there,
with her uncle watching. She remembers
sunlight flashing on his bare arms.

This is the last moment she remembers clearly.
Then the dark god bore her away.

She also remembers, less clearly,
the chilling insight that from this moment
she couldn't live without him again.

The girl who disappears from the pool
will never return. A woman will return,
looking for the girl she was.

She stands by the pool saying, from time to time,
I was abducted, but it sounds
wrong to her, nothing like what she felt.
Then she says, I was not abducted.
Then she says, I offered myself, I wanted
to escape my body. Even, sometimes,
I willed this. But ignorance

cannot will knowledge. Ignorance
wills something imagined, which it believes exists.

All the different nouns—
she says them in rotation.
Death, husband, god, stranger.
Everything sounds so simple, so conventional.
I must have been, she thinks, a simple girl.

She can't remember herself as that person
but she keeps thinking the pool will remember
and explain to her the meaning of her prayer
so she can understand
whether it was answered or not.






"The Myth of Innocence" from Averno by Louise Glück. Copyright © 2006 by Louise Glück. Reprinted by permission of Farrar, Straus and Giroux, LLC.
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