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Classic and Contemporary Poetry: Explained

ANCIENT TEXT, by             Poet Analysis     Poet's Biography

Louise Elizabeth Gluck’s poem “Ancient Text” was first published in her collection “Averno” in 2006. The poem explores themes of love, loss, and the passage of time, and does so through a series of stark and vivid images.


In “Ancient Text,” Gluck begins with an image of a text that is fading away, symbolizing the passage of time and the impermanence of all things. She then moves on to describe the speaker’s lost love, who is compared to a “bright snake” that is both beautiful and deadly. The speaker reflects on the intensity of their past relationship, and how it has now faded away, like the ancient text.

Poetic Elements:

  • Form: The poem consists of eight stanzas, each comprising two or three lines.
  • Imagery: The poem is filled with stark and vivid images, such as the image of the fading text, the “bright snake” representing the lost love, and the image of the speaker’s heart “scorching the earth.”
  • Metaphor: The poem uses the extended metaphor of the ancient text to explore the theme of the impermanence of all things, including love and relationships.

Poem Snippet:

“We can never know if we have achieved

anything. But waiting for us

in the stone orchard is a bright snake,“

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