An investigation into incarnation, transience, and our intimate connection with all existence, by one of the preeminent poets of her generation
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About the Author
The author of five previous poetry collections and a book of essays, Jane Hirshfield has been a finalist for both the National Book Critics Circle Award and England’s T. S. Eliot Prize for Poetry, and she is the winner of the Poetry Center Book Award, the California Book Award, and fellowships from the Academy of American Poets, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Guggenheim and Rockefeller foundations. Her work has appeared in The New Yorker, Atlantic Monthly, The Nation, the Los Angeles Times, and multiple volumes of The Best American Poetry and Pushcart Prize anthologies.
Read an Excerpt
By Jane Hirshfield
HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.Copyright © 2006 Jane Hirshfield
All right reserved.
After Long Silence
a small anchovy gleam
leaving the upturned pot in the dish rack
after the moon has wandered out of the window.
One of the late freedoms, there in the dark.
The leftover soup put away as well.
Distinctions matter. Whether a goat's
quiet face should be called noble
or indifferent. The difference between a right rigor and pride.
The untranslatable thought must be the most precise.
Yet words are not the end of thought, they are where it begins.
Excerpted from After by Jane Hirshfield Copyright © 2006 by Jane Hirshfield. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
After Long Silence 1
Pyracantha and Plum 2
Flowering Vetch 3
Hope: An Assay 6
To Judgment: An Assay 7
Those Who Cannot Act 9
Sheep's Cheese 10
Beneath the Snow, the Badger's Steady Breathing 11
Sky: An Assay 12
Pocket of Fog 13
Articulation: An Assay 14
Translucence: An Assay 15
What Is Usual Is Not What Is Always 16
The Mountain 17
Tears: An Assay 18
Poe: An Assay 19
The Refusal 21
Dog and Bear 22
Downed Branch 23
"Of": An Assay 25
"To": An Assay 26
"And": An Assay 28
Study of Melon & Insect 29
A Man Walks Through His Life 30
A Day Comes 31
The Double 32
Not Only Parallel Lines Extend to the Infinite 34
I Imagine Myself in Time 35
The Meeting 36
Wanting More and More to Live Unobserved,Unobserving 37
The Destination 38
Late Self-Portrait by Rembrandt 39
Ryoanji: An Assay 40
To Opinion 41
The Woodpecker Keeps Returning 43
"It is night. It is very dark." 44
The Promise 46
The Heat of Autumn 47
To Wake at 3:00 48
Dog Still Barking at Midnight 49
Two Washings 50
Termites: An Assay 51
Envy: An Assay 52
Hesitation: An Assay 53
Once: An Assay 54
Burlap Sack 56
The Monk Stood Beside a Wheelbarrow 57
I Write These Words to Delay 58
Seventeen Pebbles 59
To Spareness 65
"Ah!": An Assay 67
Against Certainty 68
Jasper, Feldspar, Quartzite 69
Instant Glimpsable Only for an Instant 70
One Sand Grain Among the Others in Winter Wind 71
To Speech 72
Possibility: An Assay 76
Bad Year 77
Serrano Pepper 78
This Much Is Promised 79
In a Room with Five People, Six Griefs 80
Ask Much, the Voice Suggested 81
To Gravel: An Assay 82
Each Morning My Neighbor Walks Out 83
Between the Material World and the World of Feeling 84
Red Scarf 85
The Bell Zygmunt 86
Letter to C 87
The Dead Do Not Want Us Dead 91
It Was Like This: You Were Happy 92
What People are Saying About This
“...finely measured and carefully weighted poems...stirring new collection.”
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Few poetry titles are as companionable as this one. When I need to write, to journal, to have an important talk with someone or to relax on my own, it's always good to have Hirshfield around. These are poems as spare in their style as they are capacious in meaning and compassion. A theme Hirshfield particularly does well - and which buttresses her mindful, meditative aura - is that all of us are doing the best we can, yet can always take a step back, look at ourselves, and do better. If it happens, it happens. It's better to listen to your crazy friend than try to change him/her, for example. If they change, it's from their own words leading to their own actions, an empowering trajectory. And that crazy person might be you. Meanwhile, impermanence and suffering are always with us. From the short poem "The Dead Do Not Want Us Dead": The dead do not want us dead; such petty errors are left for the living. Nor do they want our mourning. No gift to them - not rage, not weeping. Return one of them, any one of them, to the earth, and look: such foolish skipping, such telling of bad jokes, such feasting! Even a cucumber, even a single anise seed: feasting. The ending of the poem speaks volumes about Hirshfield's style - the vast potential of a cucumber to do big and small things, to symbolize so much in our minds. What slightly detracts from Hirshfield's work is its sameness. There isn't quite a large enough venue of details or variety of styles, so the overall quality of the work can feel a little too didactic. And it doesn't help that she uses the same metaphors of many other poets - the stream, the mountain, the horse. Too many metaphors takes away the vivacity that is day-to-day living. I will keep Hirshfield on my NOOK and read it whenever I don't have a good acquaintance around. These simple lines draw you in, connect all of us through our timeless concerns and reveal something different every reading.