Afterby Jane Hirshfield
An investigation into incarnation, transience, and our intimate connection with all existence, by one of the preeminent poets of her generationSee more details below
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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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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.
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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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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.