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Home » Jane Hirshfield » Series: Jane Hirshfield’s Early Poetry: The Lives of the Heart, Part II

Series: Jane Hirshfield’s Early Poetry: The Lives of the Heart, Part II

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March 29, 2017

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Continuing where I left off in my ongoing series on Jane Hirshfield’s early work, let’s continue to look at The Lives of the Heart, published in 1997. If you are just now clicking into this series just scroll down to the previous posts or click on Jane Hirshfield under Categories for the entire series at one time.

Obviously from the title these poems celebrate the heart, the center of human nature that keeps us at the core of our existence. Hirshfield explained to Katie Bolick of The Atlantic, “that for some years a central task in my life has been to try to affirm the difficult parts of my experience; that attempt is what many of the heart poems address. . . .At some point I realized that you don’t get a full human life if you try to cut off one end of it, that you need to agree to the entire experience, to the full spectrum of what happens.” For example, in “Secretive Heart” we find at its center life, the heart, is about the most mundane of material objects-such as an old Chinese cauldron “still good for boiling water,” but evidently not for much else.

It is one of a dozen or more,

it is merely iron,

it is merely old,

there is much else to see.

 

The few raised marks

on its belly

are useful to almost no one.

 

Heart looks at it a long time.

What do you see? I ask again,

but it does not answer.

My next installment in this series will be April 5. Follow The Literary Life blog and share on your social media. Paul Varner

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