A revelatory, indispensable collection of poems from Jane Hirshfield that centers on beauty, time, and the full embrace of an existence that time cannot help but steal from our arms. Hirshfield is unsurpassed in her ability to sink into a moment's essence and exchange something of herself with its finite music-and then, in seemingly simple, inevitable words, to deliver that exchange to us in poems that vibrate with form and expression perfectly united. Hirshfield's poems of discovery, acknowledgment of the difficult, and praise turn always toward deepening comprehension. Here we encounter the stealth of feeling's arrival (""as some strings, untouched, / sound when a near one is speaking. / So it was when love slipped inside us""), an anatomy of solitude (""wrong solitude vinegars the soul, / right solitude oils it""), a reflection on perishability and the sweetness its acceptance invites into our midst (""How suddenly then / the strange happiness took me, / like a man with strong hands and strong mouth""), and a muscular, unblindfolded awareness of our shared political and planetary fate.
Buddhism and aphorism, outdoor delights and indoor wisdom have all attracted readers to Hirshfield's spare and approachable lines; the poet navigates securely between praise and advice, mostly in clearly quotable form. "Wrong solitude vinegars the soul,/ right solitude oils it." "How happy we are,/ how unhappy we are, doesn't matter./ The stone turtle listens. The famished horse runs." Allegorical scenes like bare stage sets introduce elegant observations in conversational free verse, in words drawn from common American speech: sometimes the results sting, sometimes they end up sweet, and sometimes they end up too sweet, faux-profound ("Hearts stop in more ways than one"). More often, though, Hirshfield (Nine Gates) can speak to many lives in just a few phrases, mixing in ancient fashion the fires of consolation with the lights of warning, as in her three-line poem "Sonoma Fire," which ends on "The griefs of others-beautiful at a distance." Admirers of Mary Oliver, of the early works of Louise Gl ck, and even of Kay Ryan might find more pages to cherish. (Aug.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
There are no customer reviews available at this time. Would you like to write a review?
August 22, 2011
Number of Print Pages*
Adobe DRM EPUB
* Number of eBook pages may differ. Click here for more information.