Biography of Lisel Mueller
an American poet.
She was born in Hamburg, Germany, in 1924 and immigrated to America at the age of 15. Her father, Fritz Neumann, was a professor at Evansville College. Her mother died in 1953. "Though my family landed in the Midwest, we lived in urban or suburban environments," she once wrote. She and her husband, Paul Mueller (d. 2001) built a home in Lake Forest, Illinois in the 1960s, where they raised two daughters and lived for many years. Mueller currently resides in a retirement community in Chicago. Her poems are extremely accessible, yet intricate and layered. While at times whimsical and possessing a sly humor, there is an underlying sadness in much of her work.
She graduated from the University of Evansville in 1944 and has taught at the University of Chicago, Elmhurst College in Illinois, and Goddard College in Plainfield, Vermont.
Mueller has written book reviews for the Chicago Daily News.
Lisel Mueller's Works:
Life of a Queen (1970) by Northeast/Juniper Books
Alive Together: New & Selected Poems (1996), which won the Pulitzer Prize for poetry
Learning to Play by Ear (1990)
Waving from Shore (1989)
Second Language (1986)
The Need to Hold Still (1980), National Book Award
Voices from the Forest (1977)
The Private Life (1975) Lamont Poetry Selection
Reading the Brothers Grimm to Jenny
She has published several volumes of translation:
Circe's Mountain by Marie Luise Kaschnitz (1990)
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Lisel Mueller Poems
Monet Refuses The Operation
Doctor, you say there are no haloes around the streetlights in Paris and what I see is an aberration caused by old age, an affliction.
When the moon was full they came to the water. some with pitchforks, some with rakes, some with sieves and ladles, and one with a silver cup.
The Laughter Of Women
The laughter of women sets fire to the Halls of Injustice and the false evidence burns to a beautiful white lightness
What The Dog Perhaps Hears
If an inaudible whistle blown between our lips can send him home to us, then silence is perhaps
Speaking of marvels, I am alive together with you, when I might have been alive with anyone under the sun, when I might have been Abelard's woman
In Sleeping Beauty's castle the clock strikes one hundred years and the girl in the tower returns to the world. So do the servants in the kitchen,
What happened is, we grew lonely living among the things, so we gave the clock a face, the chair a back,
For Lucy, who called them "ghost houses." Someone was always leaving
Why We Tell Stories
For Linda Foster I
A Day Like Any Other
Such insignificance: a glance at your record on the doctor's desk or a letter not meant for you. How could you have known? It's not true
1992 1) I was born in a Free City, near the North Sea.
Reading The Brothers Grimm To Jenny
Jenny, your mind commands kingdoms of black and white: you shoulder the crow on your left, the snowbird on your right;
The moon lies on the river like a drop of oil. The children come to the banks to be healed of their wounds and bruises.
In 1936, a child in Hitler's Germany, what did I know about the war in Spain? Andalusia was a tango
For Lucy, who called them "ghost houses."
Someone was always leaving
and never coming back.
The wooden houses wait like old wives
along this road; they are everywhere,
abandoned, leaning, turning gray.