Jane Hirshfield Poems

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Changing Everything

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


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


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.

The Heart's Counting Knows Only One

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

The Task

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 Weighing

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

The Heat of Autumn

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,

Da Capo

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

Standing Deer

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

The Envoy

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.

Jane Hirshfield's Poems and Quotes! Jane Hirshfield Biography

Jane Hirshfield is a contemporary American poet who has published numerous collections of poetry. Her work often explores themes of nature, mindfulness, spirituality, and the human experience. Here are a few examples of her poems and quotes:

It is foolish
to let a young redwood
grow next to a house.
Even in this
one lifetime,
you will have to choose.
That great calm being,
this clutter of soup pots and books—
Already the first branch-tips brush at the window.
Softly, calmly, immensity taps at your life.

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

As the drought-starved
eland forgives
the drought-starved lion
who finally takes her,
enters willingly then
the life she cannot refuse,

and is lion, is fed,
and does not remember the other.

So few grains of happiness
measured against all the dark
and still the scales balance.

The world asks of us
only the strength we have and we give it.
Then it asks more, and we give it.

Stand still. The trees ahead and bushes beside you
Are not lost. Wherever you are is called Here,
And you must treat it as a powerful stranger,
Must ask permission to know it and be known.
The forest breathes. Listen. It answers,
I have made this place around you.
No two trees are the same to Raven.
No two branches are the same to Wren.
If what a tree or a bush does is lost on you,
You are surely lost. Stand still. The forest knows
Where you are. You must let it find you.

These are just a few examples of the many beautiful and insightful poems that Jane Hirshfield has written. Her work is notable for its clarity, its attentiveness to the natural world, and its willingness to explore complex emotions and ideas.

Jane Hirshfield Quotes

Here are some notable quotes by Jane Hirshfield:

"The only way to live is by accepting each minute as an unrepeatable miracle."

"Everything is held together with stories. That is all that is holding us together, stories and compassion."

"The heart's reasons are often obscure to the mind."

"Poetry is the language of intimate encounter."

"What is beauty but the unseen form that ties together the visible world?"

"We're all in the same story room, breathing the same story air."

"Attention is the beginning of devotion."

"Hope is a muscle. It is a choice."

"The only way to overcome is to hang in."

"The body is not an apology. It is not a mistake to have a body."

What is Jane Hirshfield known for?

Jane Hirshfield is known for her poetry, as well as her essays on poetry and the creative process. She is regarded as one of the leading contemporary American poets, and her work has been widely anthologized and translated into numerous languages. Hirshfield's poetry is known for its clarity, precision, and attention to detail, as well as its exploration of themes such as nature, mindfulness, and the human experience. She is also known for her advocacy of poetry as a way of engaging with the world and connecting with others. In addition to her poetry, Hirshfield has also translated the work of Japanese poets, including Izumi Shikibu and Bashō, and has written extensively on the topic of translation.

How old is Jane Hirshfield?

As of my knowledge cutoff date of September 2021, Jane Hirshfield was born on February 24, 1953, which would make her 68 years old. However, please note that I am an AI language model and do not have access to real-time information, so her age may have changed since then.

What is the poem let them not say about?

"Let Them Not Say" is a poem by Jane Hirshfield that is often interpreted as a reflection on mortality and the fleeting nature of life. The poem begins with the lines "Let them not say: we did not see it. / We saw." These lines suggest a sense of urgency, a desire to bear witness to something important and fleeting.

The rest of the poem expands on this idea, exploring the transience of life and the importance of living fully in the present moment. The speaker urges us to pay attention to the small, ordinary details of our lives, such as the way light falls on a wall or the sound of a bird singing outside a window.

At the same time, the poem acknowledges the inevitability of death and the fact that all things must eventually come to an end. The speaker suggests that by fully embracing the present moment and bearing witness to the beauty and fragility of life, we can find a kind of immortality in memory and in the connections we make with others.

Overall, "Let Them Not Say" is a poignant and reflective poem that encourages us to embrace life in all its complexity and beauty, even as we acknowledge the inevitability of its passing.

Jane Hirshfield Biography

Jane Hirshfield is an American poet, essayist, and translator, born on February 24, 1953, in New York City. She is the author of nine books of poetry, including "The Beauty," "Come, Thief," and "Given Sugar, Given Salt," which was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award.

Hirshfield's poetry often explores themes of nature, spirituality, and the human condition, and her work has been praised for its clarity, precision, and emotional depth. She has also translated the works of Japanese poets, including Basho and Issa.

In addition to her poetry, Hirshfield has written essays and articles on a range of topics, including the craft of writing, the role of poetry in society, and the intersection of poetry and science. She has taught at various universities and writing programs, including UC Berkeley, Stanford University, and the Bennington College MFA program.

Hirshfield has received numerous awards and honors for her work, including fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Rockefeller Foundation, as well as the Donald Hall-Jane Kenyon Prize in American Poetry, and the Academy of American Poets Fellowship.

Today, Jane Hirshfield is recognized as one of the most important contemporary poets in the United States, and her work has been widely anthologized and translated into many languages.

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