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Study Questions

The Wild Iris Questions

Bring on the tough stuff - there’s not just one right answer.
  1. Why do you think the only mention of a wild iris is in the title of the poem? Imagine that Louise Glück shows you "The Wild Iris" (in its current form) before publication. She is considering adding one or more explicit flower references to the body of the poem. She asks for your opinion. How would you advise her? Would you recommend that she make the addition(s)? Why or why not?
  2. How would you describe the different settings in "The Wild Iris"? How are they connected (or not connected)? Why do you think the poet used multiple settings instead of a single, integrated scene?
  3. The speaker of "The Wild Iris" addresses readers directly, referring to us as "you." How would you describe the speaker's attitude toward us? For example, does the speaker seem respectful, empathetic, patronizing, defensive? How do specific lines in the poem convey the attitude(s) you have described? Why do you think the speaker feels this way about us?
  4. Why do you think Louise Glück divided "The Wild Iris" into so many short stanzas? Do you think the poem would be easier to understand if it had fewer, longer stanzas? Why or why not? If you would prefer longer stanzas, which short stanzas would you combine and why?
  5. Do you consider "The Wild Iris" more of a good news poem or a bad news poem? Why? What parts of the poem support your judgment?
  6. Do you think the speaker of "The Wild Iris" has more attributes of a flower or a human? How can you tell?
  7. Imagine that you have been asked to create a storyboard to illustrate "The Wild Iris." How many panels would you make? Describe the picture you would create for each panel, and explain your choices. If you enjoy drawing or painting, feel free to make the illustrations for real. You could even combine the illustrations with text (printed and/or audio) and music. And be sure to let Shmoop know when you post your unique interpretation of "The Wild Iris" on YouTube.
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