This is entry #59 in our 100 Philosophers, 100 Artworks, 100 Words Series.
Philosopher: Robert Gooding-Williams, Columbia University
Artwork: The Garden, Louise Glück, 1976
Words: The dramatic speaker, a tragic chorus of one, can barely bear to observe a naïve young couple, wanting in awareness of the difficulties that await them, wanting in perspective, and doomed to sadness —a sadness occasioned by departures and separations, even fleeting ones, “even here, even at the beginning of love;” a sadness we may feel free to disregard, falsely thinking that we can secure our relationships against it. The poem, through its rhythm and tone, conveys the ineluctability of that sadness, thus exemplifying poetry’s power to affect and affectively to form our understanding of the faults that fall between us.