Louise Glück: Queen of Carthage

Queen of Carthage

Brutal to love,
more brutal to die.
And brutal beyond the reaches of justice
to die of love.

In the end, Dido
summoned her ladies in waiting
that they might see
the harsh destiny inscribed for her by the Fates.

She said, “Aeneas
came to me over the shimmering water;
I asked the Fates
to permit him to return my passion,
even for a short time. What difference
between that and a lifetime: in truth, in such moments,
they are the same, they are both eternity.

I was given a great gift
which I attempted to increase, to prolong.
Aeneas came to me over the water: the beginning
blinded me.

Now the Queen of Carthage
will accept suffering as she accepted favor:
to be noticed by the Fates
is some distinction after all.

Or should one say, to have honored hunger,
since the Fates go by that name also.”

~Louise Gluck

Art: Kay Nielsen, Red Magic

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One Response to Louise Glück: Queen of Carthage

  1. Annie says:

    I enjoyed this poem for its power and the beauty of the language, and it reminds me of a poem I wrote a long time ago (lacking the eloquence, but caring just a touch of the tone, especially in the next to the last stanza).

    I write poetry more than I read it, but this poem reminds me I would benefit from reading a wider variety of poets. I’d never seen that Kay Nielsen illustration. It reminds me a tiny touch of Harry Clarke, and, of course, of Nielsen’s own work.

    Well, I’ve repeated “reminds” three times, but it’s true. Thank you for this post!

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