Jane Hirshfield, After (Harper Collins, 2006)
Jane Hirshfield's Given Sugar, Given Salt, which I read in January, is on my list of the best books I read in 2008. While After didn't have quite the effect on me her previous book did, this one is still capable of packing the wallop that makes Jane Hirshfield's poems so well worth your time;
“As Issa changed, writing after the death of his daughter,
This world of dew
is a world of dew.
How much of you
was left uninvited into those lines.
That silence your shadow, bringing his grieving to me.”
There's a reason Issa resonates with Hirshfield, and this poem does a lot to illustrate what it is about Hirshfield's writing that makes it so intriguing and so powerful at the same time (it's that negative capability thing Keats went on about, it is). The language is plain, but there is a great deal running beneath it; much of the best poetry is thus, and Hirshfield does it with flair. Very good stuff, this. ****