Poem for November


It is not sad not to be human
nor is living entirely within the earth
demeaning or empty: it is the nature of the mind
to defend its eminence, as it is the nature of those
who walk on the surface to fear the depths – one’s
position determines one’s feelings. And yet
to walk on top of a thing is not to prevail over it –
it is more the opposite, a disguised dependency,
by which the slave completes the master. Likewise
the mind disdains what it can’t control,
which will in turn destroy it. It is not painful to return
without language or vision: if, like the Buddhists,
one declines to leave
inventories of the self, one emerges in a space
the mind cannot conceive, being wholly physical, not
metaphoric. What is your word? Infinity, meaning
that which cannot be measured.

Louise Glück (1943 – 2023) From Louise Glück, A Village Life (Carcanet: 2010). Featured image accessed at the Poetry Foundation

I enjoy how this slow, essayistic poem mirrors the patient work of its subject. At the same time there are enough surprises to keep the reader on their toes. This is thinking that recognises the limits of thought.