The Wild Iris
by Louise Glück
The Wild Iris Summary
Have you ever had one of those conversations where the person you're talking to ends up sharing some really intense memories? As you listen, you may get so swept up in that person's story about the past that you almost feel as if you've experienced it yourself. (Or you just sit there silently, feeling awkward.)
In "The Wild Iris," the speaker—who may or may not be a flower (see our section on the "Speaker")—is talking directly to us. Right off the bat, it's clear that this is going to be a real doozy of a conversation. The speaker immediately launches into a description of past "suffering," even claiming to remember "death" and being "buried in the dark earth […] unable to speak."
Just when we think this story is going from bad to worse, it seems to take a more hopeful turn. The speaker announces, "Then it was over," echoing the first line's assertion that suffering has an end, at least of some sort.
And finally, the rest of the poem documents a transition, a mysterious "passage from the other world." Through this movement out of nothingness ("oblivion"), the speaker finds a new "voice" that rises up like "a great fountain." Bonus!