Study Guide

Circe's Power Love

By Louise Glück

Love

I never turned anyone into a pig. (1)

To us Circe seems pretty defensive right off the bat. When the poem starts, it does not just settle into a nice jog or a polite trot – it gallops. We detect emotion in this first line thanks to the word, "never." Never is a pretty strong word.

We could be happy here (13)

And we've found it. Circe's soft spot. This line makes us think that we've stumbled upon a room that we're not supposed to see. In it, Circe tells us what would make her most happy.

As men and women are/ When their needs are simple. (14-15)

Men and women are happiest together when things are simple, when they don't want too much. Do you agree?

In the same breath,/ I foresaw your departure (15-16)

Hearken back to earlier lines in the poem, and recall how Circe tells Odysseus that she changed his men into swine in order to show him her "goodness" and her "power." She's like a double-sided coin, heads or tails. In this moment, we see another kind of coin appear – that of Circe's ability to see two very different things. She sees both her happiness and her unhappiness. She sees both her and Odysseus living together, and she sees them split apart.

My friend,/ every sorceress is/ a pragmatist at heart; (19-21)

What does it mean to be a pragmatist, and why isn't it natural for us to assume that sorceresses are pragmatists? What is Circe trying to communicate to Odysseus in this moment?