Jane Hirshfield

Jane Hirshfield Poems

I was walking again
in the woods,
a yellow light
was sifting all I saw.
...

2.

You work with what you are given,
the red clay of grief,
the black clay of stubbornness going on after.
Clay that tastes of care or carelessness,
clay that smells of the bottoms of rivers or dust.
...

In Sung China,
two monks friends for sixty years
watched the geese pass.
Where are they going?
...

It is a simple garment, this slipped-on world.
We wake into it daily - open eyes, braid hair -
a robe unfurled
in rose-silk flowering, then laid bare
...

The heat of autumn
is different from the heat of summer.
One ripens apples, the other turns them to cider.
One is a dock you walk out on,
...

The heart's reasons
seen clearly,
even the hardest
will carry
its whip-marks and sadness
and must be forgiven.
...

Some stories last many centuries,
others only a moment.
All alter over that lifetime like beach-glass,
grow distant and more beautiful with salt.
...

Take the used-up heart like a pebble
and throw it far out.
...

As the house of a person
in age sometimes grows cluttered
with what is
too loved or too heavy to part with,
...

One day in that room, a small rat.
Two days later, a snake.

Who, seeing me enter,
whipped the long stripe of his
body under the bed,
then curled like a docile house-pet.
...

Today when persimmons ripen
Today when fox-kits come out of their den into snow
Today when the spotted egg releases its wren song
...

12.

A hand is not four fingers and a thumb.

Nor is it palm and knuckles,
not ligaments or the fat's yellow pillow,
not tendons, star of the wristbone, meander of veins.
...

13.

It is foolish
to let a young redwood
grow next to a house.
...

14.

My mare, when she was in heat,
would travel the fenceline for hours,
wearing the impatience
in her feet into the ground.
...

Four less one is three.

Three less two is one.

One less three
is what, is who,
remains.

The first cell that learned to divide
learned to subtract.

Recipe:
add salt to hunger.

Recipe:
add time to trees.

Zero plus anything
is a world.

This one
and no other,
unhidden,
by each breath changed.

Recipe:
add death to life.

Recipe:
love without swerve what this will bring.

Sister, father, mother, husband, daughter.

Like a cello
forgiving one note as it goes,
then another.
...

but today
in rain

without coat without hat
...

When his ship first came to Australia,
Cook wrote, the natives
continued fishing, without looking up.
Unable, it seems, to fear what was too large to be comprehended.
...

A well runs out of thirst
the way time runs out of a week,
the way a country runs out of its alphabet
or a tree runs out of its height.
The way a brown pelican
runs out of anchovy-glitter at darkfall.

A strange collusion,
the way a year runs out of its days
but turns into another,
the way a cotton towel's compact
with pot and plate seems to run out of dryness
but in a few minutes finds more.

A person comes into the kitchen
to dry the hands, the face,
to stand on the lip of a question.

Around the face, the hands,
behind the shoulders,
yeasts, mountains, mosses multiply answers.

There are questions that never run out of questions,
answers that don't exhaust answer.

Take this question the person stands asking:
a gate rusting open.
Yes stands on its left, no on its right,
two big planets of unpainted silence.
...

An extra day—

Like the painting's fifth cow,
who looks out directly,
straight toward you,
from inside her black and white spots.

An extra day—

Accidental, surely:
the made calendar stumbling over the real
as a drunk trips over a threshold
too low to see.

An extra day—

With a second cup of black coffee.
A friendly but businesslike phone call.
A mailed-back package.
Some extra work, but not too much—
just one day's worth, exactly.

An extra day—

Not unlike the space
between a door and its frame
when one room is lit and another is not,
and one changes into the other
as a woman exchanges a scarf.

An extra day—

Extraordinarily like any other.
And still
there is some generosity to it,
like a letter re-readable after its writer has died.
...

One ran,
her nose to the ground,
a rusty shadow
neither hunting nor playing.

One stood; sat; lay down; stood again.

One never moved,
except to turn her head a little as we walked.

Finally we drew too close,
and they vanished.
The woods took them back as if they had never been.

I wish I had thought to put my face to the grass.

But we kept walking,
speaking as strangers do when becoming friends.

There is more and more I tell no one,
strangers nor loves.
This slips into the heart
without hurry, as if it had never been.

And yet, among the trees, something has changed.

Something looks back from the trees,
and knows me for who I am.
...

Jane Hirshfield Biography

Jane Hirshfield (born 24 February 1953)[1] is an American poet, essayist, and translator. She was born in February 24, 1953. She was born on East 20th Street, New York City. She received her bachelor's degree from Princeton University in the school's first graduating class to include women. Hirshfield's seven books of poetry have each received numerous awards. Her fifth book, Given Sugar, Given Salt, was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award and her sixth collection, After, was shortlisted for the T.S. Eliot Prize (UK) and named a 'best book of 2006' by The Washington Post, The San Francisco Chronicle, and the Financial Times. She has written a book of essays, Nine Gates: Entering the Mind of Poetry. The Ink Dark Moon, her co-translation of the work of the two foremost women poets of classical-era Japan, was instrumental in bringing tanka (a 31-syllable Japanese poetic form) to the attention of American poets. She has edited four books collecting the work of poets from the past and is noted as being "part of a wave of important scholarship then seeking to recover the forgotten history of women writers." She received a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1985, the Academy of American Poets’ 2004 Fellowship for Distinguished Achievement, a National Endowment for the Arts fellowship in 2005, and the Donald Hall-Jane Kenyon Award in American Poetry in 2012. Hirshfield has taught at the University of California, Berkeley, University of San Francisco, The Bennington Writing Seminars, and as the Elliston Visiting Poet at the University of Cincinnati. She has also taught at many writers conferences, including Bread Loaf and The Napa Valley Writers Conference and has served as both core and associate faculty in the Bennington Master of Fine Arts Writing Seminars. Hirshfield appears frequently in literary festivals both in America and abroad, including the Geraldine R. Dodge Poetry Festival, the National Book Festival, the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books, Poetry International (London, UK), the China Poetry Festival (Xi'an, China), and the Second International Gathering of the Poets [Kraków, Poland]. She is also a contributing editor at The Alaska Quarterly Review and Ploughshares, a former guest editor of The Pushcart Prize Anthology and an advisory editor at Orion and Tricycle. Honors and awards The Poetry Center Book Award The California Book Award Fellowship, Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship, Rockefeller Foundation, Fellowship, Academy of American Poets Fellowship, National Endowment for the Arts Columbia University's Translation Center Award Commonwealth Club of California Poetry Medal Bay Area Book Reviewers Award Academy Fellowship for distinguished poetic achievement from The Academy of American Poets (2004) Finalist, T. S. Eliot Prize Finalist, National Book Critics Circle Award Elected a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets, 2012)

The Best Poem Of Jane Hirshfield

Changing Everything

I was walking again
in the woods,
a yellow light
was sifting all I saw.

Willfully,
with a cold heart,
I took a stick,
lifted it to the opposite side
of the path.

There, I said to myself,
that's done now.
Brushing one hand against the other,
to clean them
of the tiny fragments of bark.

Jane Hirshfield Comments

Libby 21 January 2020

The best poem I’ve ever read wish I could be like her

0 0 Reply
Jane Hirshfield 14 January 2019

why she wrote a poem about wedding blessings.

1 1 Reply

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