—Lisel Mueller, Poetry, October 1987
In the introduction to Poetry’s centennial anthology editor Christian Wiman offers Mueller’s poem as an answer to why one writes poetry:
Stunned by the death of her mother, the speaker of this poem—an adolescent presumably, though the age is not specified—wanders out to the “lovingly planted garden” where the “day lilies were as deaf/as the ears of drunken sleepers/and the roses curved inward.”
Implicit in [the poem’s] last line is an assumption that language is a living thing, with a kind of consciousness, that it returns or reciprocates the attention that is turned toward it.
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