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Home » Jane Hirshfield » Series: Jane Hirshfield’s Early Poetry: Of Gravity & Angels, Part II

Series: Jane Hirshfield’s Early Poetry: Of Gravity & Angels, Part II

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March 16, 2017

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One of the more memorable poems from Of Gravity & Angels is “Dialogue” which begins: “A friend says,/’I’m always practicing to be an old woman.’” Another friend considers herself differently: “’I see myself young, maybe fourteen.’” The speaker, however, identifies with neither friend:

But when I lean to that mirror

a blackbird wing rises,

dark, flashing red at the shoulder,

 

and no woman is there

to pin flowers over the

place where her left breast falls.

 

Another often read poem is “The Song”:

The tree, cut down this morning,

is already chainsawed and quartered. . .

Not an instant too early, its girl slipped away.

She is singing now, a small figure

glimpsed in the surface of the pond.

All material nature has its own spirit. Here the spirit leaves the tree but never completely. In the same way as the tree will grieve its lost spirit, “the wood, if taken too quickly, will sing/ a little in the stove, still remembering her.

My next installment in this series will be March 17. Follow The Literary Life blog and share on your social media. Paul Varner

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