Study Guide

Circe's Power What's Up With the Title?

By Louise Glück

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What's Up With the Title?

When we see the title, "Circe's Power," we most likely expect that the ensuing poem will be about, well, Circe's power. As readers, we probably already have some knowledge or idea of who Circe is – we've heard about her before (even if only very vaguely so). We might know that she tempted Odysseus to stay with her on her island for a year when he was in the middle of fighting a ten-year battle to get home, or maybe we just know that she has something to do with temptation. Even if we don't really know much about Circe before reading this poem, we most likely already associate her name with power.

This title becomes even more interesting when we compare it to two other poems in Glück's book of poetry Meadowlands (check out "In a Nutshell" for more information about Meadowlands): "Circe's Torment" and "Circe's Grief." When we look at the table of contents in this book of poetry, we realize that these three poems treat different aspects of Circe's personality and plight – the titles alone tell a story.

It's interesting that each poem title begins with the word, "Circe's," as though each poem emphasize her possessions. In fact, the poem titles make us think of labels in a dorm refrigerator: "Mark's tofu," "Sasha's juice," "Manuel's meatballs." When we see these titles, we immediately feel the defensive, protective vibes radiating off of the poems. These vibes are only made stronger by the poems themselves.

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