Answers don't come easily in Louise Glück's poems, and "The Wild Iris" is no exception. The poet makes us work for our meanings. So we probably shouldn't be surprised that the poem refuses to come right out and say where it stands on the issue of life after death. Still, there are some tantalizing clues. What looks like death for a wild iris just leads to new life. So maybe what looks like death for human beings is not the end either.
Questions About Immortality
Do you think the image of buried consciousness in "The Wild Iris" supports traditional ideas of life after death? Why or why not? Have you ever thought about the possibility of life after death? If so, how do you picture it?
Immortality is an important concept in many religious traditions. Do you consider "The Wild Iris" a religious poem? Why or why not?
The word "soul" has a variety of possible meanings. In your opinion, which definition best matches the meaning of "soul" in the context of the fifth stanza? And what's the word doing there in the first place? Why talk about the soul in a poem that seems to be about a flower?
Chew on This
"The Wild Iris" makes a strong case for the immortality of the human soul.
"The Wild Iris" expresses a desire for immortality but ultimately rejects the idea as wishful thinking.