Celestial Music By Louise Gluck

Excerpts from “Celestial Music” , a poem by Louise Gluck

 “In reality, we sit by the side of the road, watching the sun set;

From time to time, the silence pierced by a birdcall.

It’s this moment we’re trying to explain, the fact

That we’re at ease with death, with solitude.

My friend draws a circle in the dirt; inside, the caterpillar doesn’t move.

She’s always trying to make something whole, something beautiful, an image

Capable of life apart from her.

We’re very quiet. It’s peaceful sitting here, not speaking, The composition

Fixed, the road turning suddenly dark, the air

Going cool, here and there the rocks shining and glittering-

It’s this stillness we both love.

The love of form is a love of endings.”


A very beautiful poem by Louise Gluck. The poet’s friend wants her to listen to the celestial music. The music is of a moment of dying of a caterpillar surrounded by the life of the ants crawling over it , a drawing of a circle in the dirt, a fixing of the composition. The circle is drawn around  a beautiful image capable of life apart from her. A moment is enacted for solitude and ease with death.It is a stillness both the poet and her friend love. The very fact you love form is a love of endings.

The stillness is experienced by a series of images that convey a calm, a solitude, a wholeness;

Sit,  watch,  in reality,

silence  pierced by a bird call  from time to time: 

inside the caterpillar does not move

an image capable of life apart from her

It is peaceful sitting here

There is no tragedy to the death, no drama about it. You draw a circle and look at the caterpillar’s death as something beautiful and whole , capable of life apart from you.