Completely Subjective: Louise Glück’s “Time”

When looking at the title of the poem “Time” by Louise Glück , I thought it was about the complexity of time. But when reading it, not only did the poem explore the many facets of time, it also included some personal moments that I could relate to. The character of the poem was a sickly child( which I am assuming might be Louise Glück), similar to me. I was born with asthma and had a weak constitution. I would constantly get sick and my early memories were mostly lying sick in bed with a fever, throwing up, coughing, and wheezing. It wasn’t pleasant and I hated every moment of it. Though I did not have a bell like the character in the poem, my parents would always be next to me, changing my bed sheets whenever I throw up, mixing my medicine, making warm and delicious food, and monitoring my health constantly. Even though being sick was uncomfortable, I treasure the memories of my parent’s warm love and care for me.

For the first half of the poem, Glück used a lot of depressing words like “rain”, “gray”, “sickness”, and “slept” to show the depressing time of being sick. Time seemed to drag on forever, like rain that never seemed to end. Since she was sick for so long, it all began to blend together, like a dream, “Things became dreams; dreams became things”. It was as if the she was in this otherworldly place, away from her sickness. She described this time of sickness like rain, “fading in and out”, getting a bit well, but then getting sick again, a never ending cycle that does not seem to end. It was the same for me. Whenever I would go outside to play with other kids, the next day, I would be left with a high fever while the other kids would be totally fine. After a few days, I would get better again, go outside to play, and then get sick again. It did seem like a never ending cycle, and the moments of being sick blended together.

At the second half of the poem, the “rain” ended. There was a time leap, from being a sickly child to all of a sudden, a healthy adult. The time when she was sick seemed so long ago. This sudden leap in time in the poem symbolized how time past by so fast: that dreary, sluggish time when she was sick was long gone. The “world of the gray rain” was no more. Now, she stepped into a bright world. “Then suddenly the sun was shining”, symbolized the end of her sickness and suffering, like a rainbow after a long rainstorm. Even though as time went on, when her memories of being sick was so far into the past, “there was almost none left”, she would still miss the connection, “the bell” that she had with her mother and remembered the moments when her mother would care for her.

I feel like you don’t have to be sick in order to experience this interesting facet of time. Whenever we are enjoying something – spending time with a friend, playing video games, or watching a movie – time passes very fast. When we are in pain, depressed, or working on homework, time passes so slow in the moment, but when we look back, its long gone, nothing more than a blurred memory. I was able to enjoy the good times more after hard work, like a reward for everything I have done. However, if I was having fun for a long time, that initial sense of joy would get depleted, and then I would feel bored.

Overall, this poem plays with a person’s perception of the time around them, in their memories, and in the future. Louise Glück managed to play around with this concept of time while introducing fluid and personal elements into her poem.

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