Reading: First Memory by Louise Gluck

Louise Glück (b. 1943) is an American poet born in New York. Numerous awards, appointed Poet Laureate in 2003. Her poetry is neither confessional nor intellectual and considered among the purest writing in English poetry today. Her subject matter is often desolate and depressing, yet poetically brilliant. I read a short little piece of wisdom that made me go ‘hell yeah’ today:

First Memory
Long ago, I was wounded. I lived
to revenge myself
against my father, not
for what he was–
for what I was: from the beginning of time,
in childhood, I thought
that pain meant
I was not loved.
It meant I loved.

What is it with all these fathers? Why is their voice so important? What does it mean, the Voice of the Father in our times when the ‘big Father’ in the sky has fewer takers every day? She writes ‘revenge’, this is not the desire to ‘prove’ yourself to the father that is so effective in manufacturing an obeying populas, as Hollywood knows.

Revenge it is, but out of self-loathing, not out of hatred for someone else. I subscribe to this psychological insight, it is something we all have to come to terms with, I mean all of us who had an authoritarian character, a ‘head of the household’ as a father who may or may not have ‘done things’.

It meant I loved. Wooha! This poem is extreme ellipsis, so it fits for everybody. Some reader might see the father beating her, an other simply a man who was always absent. All readers are supposed to be confronted with their own love. I like that.

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