by Louise Glück
Stanza V Summary
Get out the microscope, because we’re going through this poem line-by-line.
We could be happy here,
- What did Circe see in the future? She saw that she and Odysseus could live happily ever after in her stone mansion in the middle of the dense forest on the island of Aiaia.
- Notice how this line can stand on its own, meaning that if we were to cut it out of the poem and plop it down on another piece of paper, it could be its own sentence: "We could be happy here." There's no sign of enjambment here or any other tricky poetry stuff, for that matter.
- In this way, we get the feeling that Circe is being completely honest, perhaps baring her soul. She's not trying to trick Odysseus – she's trying to tell him how she feels really and truly and without the bells and whistles of poetry.
As men and women are
When their needs are simple. In the same breath,
- Circe describes her "happily ever after" dream to Odysseus, comparing their love affair to those of other lovers she's heard of.
- This dream involves the kind of happiness that is only possible when "needs are simple."
- What does she mean by this? She could mean a lot of things, but we think she might be talking about sex. She dreams of a simple life in which she and her honey live the life on her island paradise, without having power struggles or get into arguments about who turned who into a pig. She dreams of simplicity.
- At the end of line 15, she again tags on a phrase that leaves us hanging, eagerly awaiting for what's to come. She says, "in the same breath," and we know that she means that in the same moment that she imagines her happiness with Odysseus, she also sees something else.
- However, there is something about the phrase "same breath" that seems to us to be just a little bit sexy and that perhaps refers to the simple needs of humans.