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Come, Thief

4.15 of 5 stars 4.15  ·  rating details  ·  218 ratings  ·  29 reviews
A revelatory, indispensable collection of poems from Jane Hirshfield that centers on beauty, time, and the full embrace of an existence that time cannot help but steal from our arms.

Hirshfield is unsurpassed in her ability to sink into a moment’s essence and exchange something of herself with its finite music—and then, in seemingly simple, inevitable words, to deliver tha
Hardcover, 112 pages
Published August 23rd 2011 by Knopf (first published January 1st 2011)
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Really enjoyed this. Probably my favorite of Hirshfield's collections (at least of what I've read, which is not all). I'm partial to the very short ones that just glitter like gems. Here are three of my favorites.

If Truth Is the Lure, Humans Are Fishes

Under each station of the real,
another glimmers.
And so the love of false-bottomed drawers
and the salt mines outside Kraków,
going down and down without drowning.
A man harms his wife, his child.
He says, “Here is the reason.”
She says, “Here is the r
Mike Lindgren
This is the kind of poetry collection that presents a real problem for me. I can see that these poems are well-crafted, sensitive, perceptive, and thoughtful. I can tell that the author has a good ear for the language and I suspect that she is a deeply kind and spiritual person who is acutely alive to the world around her. I can also predict that I will have completely forgotten about this book approximately seventeen minutes after I finish typing this review. Sigh.
Kasey Jueds
Jane Hirshfield is my absolute favorite contemporary poet. And this most recent book is both wise and gorgeous. Her work seems to be becoming quieter, more transparent--and at the same time the poems are still mysterious and strange (in the best possible way), startling and beautiful. I love and admire the way they take in both the very small and daily (cats, sweaters, cups of coffee) and the very large (death, silk roads, Anna Karenina, war, torture)... and I especially love the way they don't ...more
Turns out, I don't think I can fall in love with most of Hirshfield's poetry if this book is any indication. I read some, skimmed some, read first stanzas of some. (Poetry is not meant to be skimmed or read in part, but most just didn't pull me in.) However! The amazing beauty and power of this poem moved the book to 4 stars for me:

This, your life had said, its only pronoun.
Here, your life had said, its only house.
Let, your life had said, its only order.

And did you have a choice in this? You di
World Literature Today
"Although the range of material and features of style are essentially that of her earlier work—that is, not developmentally new—Jane Hirshfield’s latest book of poetry nevertheless offers some of her best poems to date." - Fred Dings, The University of South Carolina

This book was reviewed in the May/June 2012 issue of World Literature Today. You can access the full review by visiting our website:
Wonderful new collection of poems by a deft and thoughtful observer of modern life.
William Reichard
I often like Jane Hirshfield's poems, but then I tend to read them out of context, in magazines or journals. As a collection, "Come, Thief" feels too precious, each poem a little jewel of observation. The problem, for me, is that these little jewels pile up and become too cloying, too self-consciously "wise" and after a while, I stop trusting the poet's voice - the poems start to feel as if they're written more by formula and less by real inspiration.
These poems are the last breath before sleep, the first taste of the first summer blueberry on your tongue, the last blink before you emerge from the forest into the sunshine. Simple, quiet, thoughtful. Yes, we perish, but we can cherish the moments before we do, the gifts strewn around us like pennies. Every journey, begun somewhere, with a destination, ending somewhere else, but similar to great migrations of feeling and thought. A blessing for a wedding that takes my breath away, and will be ...more
Pascale Petit
This is Jane Hirshfield's best book. I can go back to it again and again and each time find something new, whether it's a fresh way of looking at the world or just sheer admiration of her spare but expansive style and incisive eye. I've also happily reviewed it for Poetry Review.
Quiet. Too quiet. While I like the subtlety and thought put into the work here, a lot of these poems felt lacking to me. On the bright side, there was nothing garish, frightening or offensive in them to really freak me out. So I can recommend this book as something to read before bed, or any time a simple (if unexciting) effort is desired.
Literary Review The
Jane Hirshfield
Come, Thief

(New York: Knopf, 2011)

Poet Jane Hirshfield’s new book, Come, Thief, reaches from stillness to the bounding life. As she writes in “The Tongue Says Loneliness,” “this life is not a gate, but the horse plunging through it.” The poems turn in a variety of directions, even at one point, toward Pompeii. Through a variety of forms, Hirshfield asks that readers attend their own worlds to observe both the natural and the manmade in order to learn about humanity. We’re here, sh
It opens with my favorite poem of the collection, French Horn, which wraps with these lovely lines:

Let others claps.
These two, their ears still ringing, hear nothing.
Not the the shouts of bravo, bravo,
not the timpanic clamor inside their bodies.
As the plum's blossoms do not hear the bee
not taste themselves turned into storable honey
by that sumptuous disturbance.

Nothing that comes ever reaches quite that level of piquancy again, but it is still so laced with little treasures that it would be har
T Fool
A great deal more should be said about this collection than this will say. Poems like this are not just 'tiny universes' self-contained in a network of tight coherence. They've taught themselves to be 'tiny Asian universes'.

By which I mean this. To the English language ear, translations of Chinese and Japanese poetry take on the sense that a film gives when periodic frames are deliberately excised and the eye skips and the mind works more to fill in what, naturalistically, should be there. Or
Poems that slip inside thought and heart and unfold in surprising ways, tipping the reader toward new insights.
Patti K
This 2011 book of poems is again full of observations and images that reflect
her Buddhist thought. Some even read as a Zen koan. Some poems are a little
odd or awkward in their syntax as if the thought was riddled with contradiction.
Some of her lines break through though and are highly charged. "As this life is
not a gate, but the horse plunging through it." Hirshfield is always good
reading and this book is no exception. It is a bit harder to read though than
some of her others.
Peter Walker
Love this gifted poet's writing.
I'm still figuring out what kinds of poetry I like, but some of this was not what I was looking for. Many of the poems were excellent. Several of the poems early in the volume were a bit disjointed, and I prefer poems that are tighter and less gestured.

I really liked "When Your Life Looks Back," "A Small-Sized Mystery," "The Egg Had Frozen, An Accident," and "All the Difficult Hours and Minutes."
Hirshfield is one of my favorite living poets. This collection is inspiring and enlightening. She has a keen command of our language and is a master of imagination. There is a profoundness in every day events and Hirshfield captures it line by line. I will be reading this treasure again and again. Delicious!

These poems are a hike in the mountains with high peaks like "French Horn" and "When Your Life Looks Back." All are meditations,sparer than I am accustomed to in her work; they invite re-reading. I am especially drawn to "The Pear," 'Washing Doorknobs," and "Seawater Stiffens Cloth."
More difficult than earlier books of her work. I'm going to have to read through these poems again. Not necessarily a bad thing, but a surprise. Much work on aging and grief. As one might expect. Very inspiring -- makes me want to write my own poems, with not all work does these days.
This collection from one of my favorite poets just didn't reach out and grab me, except in the case of the following poems:
-Shadow: An Assay
-Seawater Stiffens Cloth
-Wild Plum
-When Your Life Looks Back
Hirshfield's poems are as open, inviting, observant, and haunting as ever.

Learn more about the poet in her interview on Words With Writers:
David  Sam
Certainly one of Jane Hirshfield's finest collections---how she shows the everyday to be both evanescent and numinous. How she makes the tragic and comic in our lives from simple words and images.
I'm not writing here - but if you're interested, go to Kasey Jued's review of this book. I'd like to just quote her review in full.
Poetry for the five senses (only).

Intelligent writer and great respect; not my style though.
I'm not wowed by the collection, but there were some compelling, artistic poems.
Will be re-reading and then reading again. Many favorites - too many to mention.
Heather Mize
Jane Hirshfield blows me away. She has a language all her own.
Kristy marked it as to-read
Jan 27, 2015
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Jane Hirshfield is the author of seven collections of poetry, including Come Thief (Knopf, August 23, 2011), After (HarperCollins, 2006), which was named a “Best Book of 2006” by The Washington Post, The San Francisco Chronicle, and England’s Financial Times and shortlisted for England’s T.S. Eliot Award; and Given Sugar, Given Salt (finalist for the 2001 National Book Critics Circle Award); as we ...more
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“Everything has two endings-
a horse, a piece of string, a phone call.

Before a life, air.
And after.

As silence is not silence, but a limit of hearing.”
“as some strings, untouched,
sound when no one is speaking.

So it was when love slipped inside us.”
More quotes…