Jane Hirshfield

by Skylar Rowe

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“Bookpassage” Jane Hirshfield, an Appreciation. Web. 5 Fed. 2016.

Jane Hirshfield was born February 24, 1953 in New York. She got her degree from Princeton University. Hirshfield taught at the University of California Berkeley and the University of San Francisco. Hirshfield first published in1973. Her works include imagery, nature, and domestic settings. Jane Hirshfield’s poetry centers on human existence and awareness.

The Weighing

The heart's reasons

seen clearly,

even the hardest

will carry

its whip-marks and sadness

and must be forgiven.



As the drought-starved

eland forgives

the drought-starved lion

who finally takes her,

enters willingly then

the life she cannot refuse,

and is lion, is fed,

and does not remember the other.



So few grains of happiness

measured against all the dark

and still the scales balance.



The world asks of us

only the strength we have and we give it.

Then it asks more, and we give it.


Hirshfield, Jane. “The Weighing” Poem. 5 Feb. 2016

In this poem Hirshfield talks about how life is full of ups and downs and that life will go on even when we go through hard times. This poem is full of comparisons that contrast to make the audience understand the subject. Everyone can relate to the line “So few grains of happiness measured against all the dark and still the scales balance.”(16-18) Even when life is just awful, one thing can change your attitude and cause you to be a happier person despite all that is truly going on. In the first stanza, diction is used that makes the author sound very wise and almost omnipresent knowing the true feelings that everyone experiences. The ending lines of this poem had a real impact on me… “The world asks of us only the strength we have and we give it”. This line is just really great because it is just so true. We as humans are constantly asked to do more and be better and even though it is really hard, we still do it. I love the last line of this poem because she could have ended the poem there but instead she just said the world is always asking for more of us, which she makes very clear.

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“clker” Web. 5 Feb. 2016

A Hand
A hand is not four fingers and a thumb.



Nor is it palm and knuckles,

not ligaments or the fat's yellow pillow,

not tendons, star of the wristbone, meander of veins.



A hand is not the thick thatch of its lines

with their infinite dramas,

nor what it has written,

not on the page,

not on the ecstatic body.



Nor is the hand its meadows of holding, of shaping-

not sponge of rising yeast-bread,

not rotor pin's smoothness,

not ink.



The maple's green hands do not cup

the proliferant rain.

What empties itself falls into the place that is open.



A hand turned upward holds only a single, transparent question.



Unanswerable, humming like bees, it rises, swarms, departs
Hirshfield, Jane. “This Was Once a Love Poem” Poem. 5 Feb. 2016
This poem really intrigues me; I love the listing that the author uses. Every line repeats with “a hand is not” and all of the things that Hirshfield states are the things that people associate with hands. The repetition causes the poem to have a rhyme to it. The way that Hirshfield wrote this poem is very interesting because she never really answers the question that every reader has as they read this poem, “What are hands to her?” She leaves the poem hanging by not ending her last line with punctuation at first I thought it was an error in the poem but I realized that in poetry everything is put in for a specific purpose. It causes you to dig deep down and figure this poem out for yourself. I love the lines “What empties itself falls into the place that is open.” it reminds me of things in my own life. This line is similar to the saying when one door closes another one opens because whatever is meant to happen will happen. The word “unanswerable” in the last line sums up this poem perfectly because this is opened to interpretation and everyone will get something different out of it. Hands are compared to leaves and leaves like hands are more useful when they are opened. Open for leaves means that the tree is able to get water and is nourished.Open hands to me mean letting go and just letting things happen because ultimately what we think things are, really mean something else.
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“fyi.uwex.edu” Web. 5 Feb. 2016 ” Web. 5 Feb. 2016

Da Capo
Take the used-up heart like a pebble

and throw it far out.



Soon there is nothing left.

Soon the last ripple exhausts itself

in the weeds.



Returning home, slice carrots, onions, celery.

Glaze them in oil before adding

the lentils, water, and herbs.



Then the roasted chestnuts, a little pepper, the salt.

Finish with goat cheese and parsley. Eat.



You may do this, I tell you, it is permitted.

Begin again the story of your life.

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Hirshfield, Jane. “Da Capo” Poem. 5Feb. 2016
This poem is about love and how when you go through a tough break up you need to just get rid of those feelings that consume you and just start over. As you read this poem the beginning made it seem like this was an easy task, to just throw away the old feelings that you have, but as you keep reading you realize that you are really going to have to work at starting over. Even though you throw away that thing in you life, you are still going to have the memories. The author uses list to make it seem like a hard task, almost forcing you through every task. Da Capo means to repeat from the beginning. The title tells you that it is possibly to just start-over, it gives the reader hope for the new life they are starting. “Begin again the story of your life”… there is hope for the broken hearted. Your life is not over, you will always have the ability to start over, and forget about the things in your life that you don’t like. The food that is being made here is comfort food; which always helps people get over the problems in life. When anyone is grieving or hurt in anyway people always give food because it is a way of healing. Hirshfield poems are just very calming, they make the reader feel very comforted, and feel like everything will be okay when you are going through hard times.

For What Binds Us
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.

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Hirshfield, Jane. “For What Binds Us” Poem. 5 Feb.2016

This poem is really about how we get hurt and go through hard times but we ultimately come back stronger. In line fifteen Hirshfield talks about “proud flesh” and I love that reference because it is so true. We go through so much in our lives and some people hide what they have been through because they see it as a bad thing but really it just shows how strong you are. Scars are just war wounds. They show that you are not weak, that you have been through hard things but you have come out on the other side. No one likes struggling or going though tough times but they are worth it because they make you a better person in the end. By the end of the poem she talks about relationships and how they are not always going to be perfect but pushing through things together just makes your relationship stronger and greater that it was before.