Jane Hirshfield is a visionary, profoundly original American writer whose poems ask nothing less than what it is to be human. Both sensual meditations and passionate investigations, they reveal complex truths in language luminous and precise. Rooted in the living world, her poems celebrate and elucidate a hard-won affirmation of our human fate. Born of a rigorous questioning of heart, spirit and mind, they have become indispensable to many American readers in navigating their own lives. Bloodaxe published her retrospective Each Happiness Ringed by Lions: Selected Poems in 2005, followed by After in 2006, a Poetry Book Society Choice which was shortlisted for the T.S. Eliot Prize, and then Come, Thief in 2011. Jane Hirshfield's latest collection, The Beauty, opens with a series of poems exploring both the profundities and the quirks of our shared human existence. She draws intimate meaning from multiple realms: science, culture, language itself, and above all the luminous materials and minutely particular emotions of daily life. In their robust negotiation with fate and justice, these clear and moving poems open a new and steepened understanding of our lives' full measure of losses, knowledge, and loves. 'Hirshfield's lucid poems are philosophical and sensuous, concise yet mysterious' Wittily deductive and metaphysically resplendent, Hirshfield's supple and knowing poems reflect her long view, her quest for balance, and her exuberant participation in the circle dance of existence' - Donna Seaman, Booklist, on Come, Thief
Hirshfield (Come, Thief) opens her beautiful eighth book of poems describing the copper bowls of a scale in perfect balance: on one end of the scales a woman in a wheelchair sings a traditional Portuguese fado, on the other end everyone else present hangs in attention. This moment, one that expresses the internal vastness of the individual, bleeds into the rest of the collection as Hirshfield seeks the idea of balance. In a collection where "an hour can be dropped like a glass," the pieces are seen by the reader as a new whole. "The ideas of poets turn into only themselves," she notes, and those ideas are both the most important and the least. She uses the quotidian to peer into the life cycle. When she writes, "Now I too am sixty./ There was no other life," it is as if the whole world had reached that milestone before her and she is somehow the last to see it through. The book pleads with itself to remember the past; the moments where days drifted by and doors could open or close. It pleads not to be forgotten. If Hirshfield's previous work could be accused of lacking duende, this one surely cannot; it is a book of late-midlife koans that finally only want one thing, for "fate to be human."