Study Guide

Circe's Power Stanza II

By Louise Glück

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Stanza II

Lines 4-5

I'm sick of your world
That lets the outside disguise the inside. Your men weren't bad men;

  • Whoa. Circe changes direction completely, and now she's on the offense. Watch out! She's throwing words like thunderbolts; she's casting judgment.
  • In saying, "I'm sick of your world," she draws a very clear line between Odysseus' world and the world of her island. What kind of tone is she striking at this moment? How would her message be different if she instead said, "I don't care for your world."
  • She's sick of his world (we could read this: his world makes her want to hurl), and we imagine her fuming. Make no bones about it, she aims to insult Odysseus.
  • But why does she hate his world so much? Because in it, people can front all they want, and no one will call them out. In his world, people can get away with acting one way while thinking another; people can get away with being insincere.
  • Circe thinks this is downright wrong and weird.
  • At end of line five, Circe changes direction yet again. Her tone softens up as she concedes, "Your men weren't bad men" (5).
  • Wait a minute. But we thought they were pigs. What's going on, Circe? You keep changing your tune: one minute you are diplomatic, the next minute you are a smart aleck, then you become wrathful, and now you are being fair?
  • Here, she seems to say, "your cronies (who miraculously became pigs) weren't evil."
  • At the end of line 5, it's as though she's becoming very quiet. Remember that song "Shout" by the Isely Brothers ("you know you make me want to…SHOUT (kick my heels up), SHOUT (throw my hands up), SHOUT")? At the end of the song, the singer gets very quiet and then gradually gets louder and louder and louder. We feel like the same thing is going on in this poem. Circe is switching up her volumes.

Lines 6-7

Undisciplined life
Did that to them. As pigs,

  • Circe tells Odysseus that his men weren't always bad men. Instead, "undisciplined life" made them become what they are.
  • What does she mean by "undisciplined life?" We think Circe is accusing the men's reckless lifestyle as the primary reason for their pig-like behavior.
  • Why do you think "undisciplined life" (6) is on a separate line from "did that to them"(7)? How would the line be different if both of those fragments were glued together on the same line?
  • Circe does not leave line 6 without briefly reminding Odysseus that his men are pigs.

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