Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Hodgepodge 228/365 - Poetry (Jane Hirshfield)

I've always enjoyed the poems of Jane Hirshfield, with her Zen sensibility, her explorations of perception and consciousness, reality and the mind. She once told Contemporary Authors, “My primary interest has always been the attempt to understand and deepen experience by bringing it into words. Poetry, for me, is an instrument of investigation and a mode of perception, a way of knowing and feeling both self and world. . . . I am interested in poems that find a clarity without simplicity; in a way of thinking and speaking that does not exclude complexity but also does not obscure; in poems that know the world in many ways at once—heart, mind, voice, and body.”

I don't know her well, though, and a quick dip into the Poetry Foundation's offerings online brought up no poems that I recognize. I conclude that I need to sit down with her—with one of her many books of poetry, or perhaps one of her two collections of essays about poetry, which "touch upon such subjects as originality, the nature of metaphoric mind, translation, and the psychological shadow." I am confident I would learn a lot.

That said, here are two that I found just now that I like, one old, one very recent—so for today: a quick and dirty poetry post.

A Tie That Binds (1988)

There are names for what binds us:
strong forces, weak forces.
Look around, you can see them:
the skin that forms in a half-empty cup,
nails rusting into the places they join,
joints dovetailed on their own weight.
The way things stay so solidly
wherever they've been set down—
and gravity, scientists say, is weak.

And see how the flesh grows back
across a wound, with a great vehemence,
more strong
than the simple, untested surface before.
There's a name for it on horses,
when it comes back darker and raised: proud flesh,

as all flesh,
is proud of its wounds, wears them
as honors given out after battle,
small triumphs pinned to the chest—

And when two people have loved each other
see how it is like a
scar between their bodies,
stronger, darker, and proud;
how the black cord makes of them a single fabric
that nothing can tear or mend.

Amor Fati (2017)

Little soul,
you have wandered
lost a long time.

The woods all dark now,
birded and eyed.

Then a light, a cabin, a fire, a door standing open.

The fairy tales warn you:
Do not go in,
you who would eat will be eaten.

You go in. You quicken.

You want to have feet.
You want to have eyes.
You want to have fears.

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