Click here to listen to Louise Gl ück read this poem.
1. Once I could imagine my soul I could imagine my death. When I imagined my death my soul died. This I remember clearly.
My body persisted.
Not thrived, but persisted.
Why I do not know.
When I was still very young
my parents moved to a small valley
surrounded by mountains
in what was called the lake country.
From our kitchen garden
you could see the mountains,
snow covered, even in summer.
I remember peace of a kind
I never knew again.
Somewhat later, I took it upon myself
to become an artist,
to give voice to these impressions.
The rest I have told you already.
A few years of fluency, and then
the long silence, like the silence in the valley
before the mountains send back
your own voice changed to the voice of nature.
This silence is my companion now.
I ask: of what did my soul die?
and the silence answers
if your soul died, whose life
are you living and
when did you become that person?