Evening Poetry, May 17

Works & Loves

by 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.

You can find this poem in The Beauty.

Evening Poetry, May 12


by Jane Hirshfield

For a long time

I keep the guidebooks out on the table.

In the morning, drinking coffee, I see the spines:

St. Petersburg, Vilnius, Vienna.

Choices pondered but not finally taken.

Behind them-sometimes behind thick fog-the mountain.

If you lived higher up on the mountain,

I find myself thinking, what you would see is

more of everything else, but not the mountain.

You can find this poem in After.

Evening Poetry, April 21

The Mountain

by Jane Hirshfield

One moment, the mountain is clear

in strong morning sunlight. The next, vanished in a fog.

I return to Tu Fu, afraid to look up again

from my reading and find in the window moonlight–

but when I do, the fog is still there,

and only the ancient poet’s hair has turned gray

while a single wild goose passed him, silently climbing.

You can find this poem in After.

Evening Poetry, March 28

Quartz Clock

by Jane Hirshfield

The ideas of a physicist

can be turned into useful objects:

a rocket, a quartz clock,

a microwave oven for cooking.

the ideas of poets turn into only themselves,

as the hands of a clock do,

or the face of a person.

It changes, but only more into the person.

You can find this poem in The Beauty: Poems.

Evening Poetry, December 3

A Chair in Snow

By Jane Hirshfield

A chair in snow
should be
like any other object whited
& rounded

and yet a chair in snow is always sad

more than a bed
more than a hat or house
a chair is shaped for just one thing

to hold
a soul its quick and few bendable

perhaps a king

not to hold snow
not to hold flowers

You can find this poem in The Beauty: Poems.