After
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After

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by Jane Hirshfield
     
 

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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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An investigation into incarnation, transience, and our intimate connection with all existence, by one of the preeminent poets of her generation

Editorial Reviews

Donna Seaman
“...finely measured and carefully weighted poems...stirring new collection.”
Publishers Weekly
Serious, prayerful and governed by quietly sweeping abstract lines, Hirshfield's sixth collection of verse continues the meditative direction established in 2001's well-received Given Sugar, Given Salt. She subtitles many poems "an assay," meaning both a try and an exposition: the sky, the words "of " and "to" and the writings of Edgar Allan Poe all become such discursive test cases. Some assays are prose poems, a form that balances out Hirshfield's tropism toward restrained wonder. The tone overall, however, inclines decisively toward sadness and grief: the poet aspires "to live amid the great vanishing a cat must live,/ one shadow fully at ease inside another." Hirshfield brings a plainspoken American spirituality (think of Mary Oliver or Robert Bly) to bear on her interest in East Asian practice: a set of quite short (one to five lines) lyric efforts, under the collective title "Seventeen Pebbles," pares Hirshfield's sensibility to a Zen concision. A longer Japanese-influenced poem concludes, "slowness alone is not to be confused/ with the scent of the plum tree just before it opens." Clarification makes for consolation in this gentle and very unified book. (Feb.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
The conversational yet metaphysical poems in Hirshfield's (Given Sugar, Given Salt) sixth collection look at everyday circumstances through a foreshortened lens. Images of flowers, fruits, stones, wolves, beetles, fireflies, paintings, and dogs-most of these poems mention dogs-all represent elusive emotional states. In "Lemons," e.g., Hirshfield uses grated lemon rind bitters to suggest the moment when one lover knows that his feelings are not reciprocated. The best poems are spare meditations on life's disappointments. They usually begin in the middle of things, letting the context accrue gradually until they end in mystery, as in "Seventeen Pebbles," a series of 17 poems each resembling haiku. One could easily become heavy-handed and maudlin with these subjects-many of the poems feel as though they were written at the end of a love affair. But Hirshfield, whose work has appeared in Best American Poetry, Pushcart Prize Anthology, the Atlantic Monthly, the Nation, and The New Yorker, manages to avoid just that with vivid imagery, understatement, and a tone that is emotionally distant but not removed. Her poetic voice-although distinctly her own-faintly echoes the work of Louise Gluck and Robert Haas. Suitable for all libraries.-Diane Scharper, Towson Univ., MD Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780060779191
Publisher:
HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
02/20/2007
Edition description:
Reprint
Pages:
112
Sales rank:
1,008,503
Product dimensions:
8.94(w) x 10.84(h) x 0.30(d)

Read an Excerpt

After

Poems
By Jane Hirshfield

HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.

Copyright © 2006 Jane Hirshfield
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0060779160

After Long Silence

Politeness fades,

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.

Continues...


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.

What People are saying about this

Donna Seaman
“...finely measured and carefully weighted poems...stirring new collection.”

Meet 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.

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After: Poems 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
ShawnSorensen43 More than 1 year ago
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.