Works & Loves

By Jane Hirshfield b. 1953 Jane Hirshfield


Rain fell as a glass
something suddenly everywhere at the same time.


To live like a painting
looked into from more than one angle at once —

eye to eye with the doorway,
down at the hair,
up at your own dusty feet.


“This is your house,”
said my bird heart to my heart of the cricket,
and I entered.


The happy see only happiness,
the living see only life,
the young see only the young,

as lovers believe
they wake always beside one also in love.


However often I turned its pages,
I kept ending up
as the same two sentences of the book:

The being of some is: to be. Of others: to be without.

Then I fell back asleep, in Swedish.


A sheep grazing is unimpressed by the mountain
but not by its flies.


The grief
of what hasn’t yet happened —

a door closed from inside.

The weight of the grass
an ant’s five-legged silence
walking through it.


What is the towel, what is the water,
though of we three,
only the towel can be held upside down in the sun.


“I was once.”
Said not in self-pity or praise.
This dignity we allow barn owl,
ego, oyster.

Source: Poetry (January 2014).


This poem originally appeared in the January 2014 issue of Poetry magazine

January 2014
 Jane  Hirshfield


Award-winning poet, essayist, and translator Jane Hirshfield is the author of several collections of verse, including The Beauty (2015), a finalist for the National Book Award, Come, Thief (2011), After (2006), shortlisted for the T.S. Eliot prize, and Given Sugar, Given Salt (2001), a finalist for the National Book Critics Award, among others. Hirshfield has also translated the work of early women poets in collections such as . . .

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SUBJECT Living, Life Choices, The Body, The Mind

Poetic Terms Series/Sequence

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