The Beauty: Poems by Jane HirshfieldThe Beauty: Poems by Jane Hirshfield

The Beauty: Poems

byJane Hirshfield

Paperback | February 21, 2017


An incandescent collection from one of American poetry's most distinctive and essential voices 

The Beauty opens with a series of dappled, ranging "My" poems--"My Skeleton," "My Corkboard," "My Species," "My Weather"--in which Hirshfield uses materials both familiar and unexpected to explore the magnitude, singularity, and permeability of our shared existence. Of her memory, she writes, "Like the small soaps and shampoos / a traveler brings home / then won't use, / you, memory, / almost weightless / this morning inside me." With a pen faithful to the actual yet dipped at times in the ink of the surreal, Hirshfield cuts, as always, directly to the heart of human experience. Her robust affirmation of choice even amid inevitability and her contemplation of our moral, societal, and biological intertwinings sustain poems that tune and retune the keys of a life. For Hirshfield, "Zero Plus Anything Is a World." Her recipes for that world ("add salt to hunger," "add time to trees") offer an altered understanding of our lives' losses and additions, and of the small and larger beauties we so often miss.

JANE HIRSHFIELD is the author of eight books of poetry, including The Beauty; Come, Thief; After; and Given Sugar, Given Salt. She has edited and cotranslated four books presenting the work of poets from the past and is the author of two major collections of essays, Nine Gates: Entering the Mind of Poetry and Ten Windows: How Great Poe...
Title:The Beauty: PoemsFormat:PaperbackProduct dimensions:128 pages, 8.98 × 6 × 0.42 inShipping dimensions:8.98 × 6 × 0.42 inPublished:February 21, 2017Publisher:Knopf Doubleday Publishing GroupLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0345806859

ISBN - 13:9780345806857

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Read from the Book

My Eyes   An hour is not a house, a life is not a house, you do not go through them as if they were doors to another.   Yet an hour can have shape and proportion, four walls, a ceiling. An hour can be dropped like a glass.   Some want quiet as others want bread. Some want sleep.   My eyes went to the window, as a cat or dog left alone does.   _______   I Wake Early   I wake early, make two cups of coffee, drink one, think, go back to sleep, wake again, think, drink the other.   To start a day over is a card game played for no money, a ripe tomato, a swimming cat.   Time here: lukewarm, with milk and sugar, big and unset as a table.   I wake twice.   Twice the window unbroken, transparent.   Twice the cat’s nose and ears above water. Twice the war (my war) is distant, its children’s children are distant.   _______     Zero Plus Anything Is a World   Four less one is three.   Three less two is one.   One less three is what, is who, remains.   The first cell that learned to divide learned to subtract.   Recipe: add salt to hunger.   Recipe: add time to trees.   Zero plus anything is a world.   This one and no other, unhidden, by each breath changed.   Recipe: add death to life.   Recipe: love without swerve what this will bring.   Sister, father, mother, husband, daughter.   Like a cello forgiving one note as it goes, then another.   Excerpted from The Beauty by Jane Hirshfield. Copyright © 2015 by Jane Hirshfield. Excerpted by permission of Knopf, a division of Random House LLC. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

Editorial Reviews

“Gracefully evocative … [Hirshfield’s] pithy and disarming lyrics have a touch of Dickinson about them as she sets human dilemmas within nature’s perpetual surge...[her] contemplative acuity, erudite imagination, and exceptional fluency in image and language make for a beautifully agile and sage volume.”— Donna Seaman, Booklist (starred review)   “An exquisite collection that displays her talents of observation and her willingness to look at life through the lens of hindsight.” —Anisse Gross, The San Francisco Gate   “Hirshfield’s new poems emerge as fiercely strong yet tender, drawing on supple intuition and clarifying intelligence to evoke the richness of her authentic inner life. Hirshfield sees beyond self, perceiving fresh perspectives flowing through our permeability and interconnection.” —Robert Bonazzi, World Literature Today   “The Beauty composes the ordinary fruit, in the ordinary kitchen, the ants, the towels, the hopes, the loss, the way we humans believe and lose faith, all of it contained in the hours of every single ordinary day, and renders it beautiful, noticeable.” —Kirsten Rian, The Oregonian"Throughout The Beauty, her gracefully evocative eighth book of poems, Hirshfield is archly witty and riddling. In “My Skeleton,” for example, she offers a fresh and startling look at our relationship with our bodies, a subject rooted in her fascination with perception, science, and underlying structures of all kinds. Her succinct and arresting observations—often framed within such everyday moments as waking in the morning and sitting in a kitchen, and inspired by the subtle wonders of honey, cellophane, church bells, even the journey of a common cold—swerve suddenly and exhilaratingly onto metaphysical terrain. Her pithy and disarming lyrics have a touch of Dickinson about them as she sets human dilemmas within nature’s perpetual surge: “Generation. / Strange word: both making and passing.” Hirshfield’s contemplative acuity, erudite imagination, and exceptional fluency in image and language make for abeautifully agile and sage volume."— Donna Seaman, Booklist (starred review)"The Beauty, Jane Hirshfield's eighth collection, reveals a poet at the height of her powers. With her signature use of deceptively simple images and language, she hints at the unspoken truths that lie just beyond our perspective while celebrating the everyday details and connections that make a life. . . While many of these poems are brief, they are masterpieces in miniature. Their images are simple but not obvious; they are offered without judgment. They also reward contemplation. Hirshfield asks her readers to wait for their own reactions, suggesting that those reactions matter because they open the door to the poem's meaning, and because they unite us all. --Jeanette Zwart, Shelf AwarenessA Publishers Weekly Pick of the Week