Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Lay Back the Darkness: Poems” as Want to Read:
Lay Back the Darkness: Poems
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Lay Back the Darkness: Poems

3.77  ·  Rating details ·  103 ratings  ·  8 reviews
Edward Hirsch’s sixth collection is a descent into the darkness of middle age, narrated with exacting tenderness. He explores the boundaries of human fallibility both in candid personal poems, such as the title piece—a plea for his father, a victim of Alzheimer’s wandering the hallway at night—and in his passionate encounters with classic poetic texts, as when Dante’s Infe ...more
Paperback, 88 pages
Published September 14th 2004 by Knopf (first published 2003)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Lay Back the Darkness, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Lay Back the Darkness

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.77  · 
Rating details
 ·  103 ratings  ·  8 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of Lay Back the Darkness: Poems
Apr 08, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry
I haven't read poetry with any regularity for more than 20 years, when I read a lot of it. I picked up a few slim contemporary volumes from my branch library's paltry collection this week, focusing on names I knew and poets I had neglected. Hirsch's book was the first of these I read (other than dipping into a bit of Yeats -- not a contemporary, so he doesn't really count). I expected to read a few pages, find it tiresome, and put it aside confirmed in my usual feeling about poetry in recent yea ...more
Christopher Pokorny
Jan 19, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: poetry
I picked this up on a whim at a used bookstore in West Texas. The title piqued my interest...”Lay back the darkness.” Hirsch writes about his life with reflections on spirituality, Judaism, family and the Holocaust. Perhaps the most striking pericope to me was the following:

“Someone wrote in tiny letters in pencil
‘I don’t believe God forgot us’
but someone else scrawled in thick letters in pen
‘I don’t believe’
‘God forgot us”
Rachel Coyne
Apr 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Two Suitcases of Children's Drawings from Terezin, 1942~1944 in incredible, unforgettable art ...more
Feb 20, 2009 rated it really liked it
Deceptively heavy considering the slim
stature deceiving as a memory of past
love lost long ago for good reasons lost
even longer than the inspiring texts
Oct 05, 2014 rated it liked it
I was drawn to the title poem, and a few others that mention his father’s struggle with Alzheimer’s disease and this poet does not disappoint. The book jacket talks about these poems as a “descent into the darkness of middle age,” but I didn’t feel that at all. Yes, it is not joyful, exuberant poetry, but it is genuine and powerful. He writes of becoming a mystic, of praising mysteries, of knowing “vast love” and recalling his father’s childhood. He takes characters from Greek myths and retells ...more
Christopher Shade
Nov 21, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry
Brave and moving poems that are at turns erudite and deeply emotional.
Jun 06, 2007 rated it it was ok
Shelves: poetry
2.5. A few poems were really beautiful, but overall, I just couldn't connect with these. And I felt like a lot of them needed some good editing -- he tends towards last lines that sum up the poem, etc. ...more
Jeffrey (Akiva) Savett
The gem here is "Dates" ...more
rated it it was amazing
Jul 20, 2015
Teresa Sutton
rated it it was amazing
Aug 10, 2013
rated it liked it
Feb 02, 2013
M. E.
rated it liked it
May 05, 2010
rated it really liked it
Aug 23, 2011
rated it really liked it
Aug 14, 2014
rated it liked it
Oct 22, 2012
rated it really liked it
Oct 25, 2010
rated it really liked it
Jun 21, 2013
Holly Walrath
rated it it was amazing
May 10, 2018
rated it it was amazing
Oct 07, 2008
rated it liked it
Jan 08, 2018
Ashley Elise Elise
rated it it was amazing
Oct 29, 2012
rated it really liked it
Jan 24, 2011
Tim Anderson
rated it liked it
Sep 19, 2012
rated it liked it
May 01, 2011
Gabriel Costello
rated it really liked it
Oct 18, 2020
rated it really liked it
Apr 23, 2008
Audrey Webster
rated it it was amazing
May 07, 2017
Laurence Kirmayer
rated it really liked it
Mar 03, 2018
Molly M M
rated it liked it
May 31, 2007
rated it did not like it
Aug 22, 2007
« previous 1 3 4 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • The Escape Room
  • Uncanny Valley
  • The Murmur of Bees
  • A Good Girl's Guide to Murder (A Good Girl's Guide to Murder, #1)
  • Supermarket
  • From Scratch: A Memoir of Love, Sicily, and Finding Home
  • Spiritually Incorrect: Finding God In All The Wrong Places
  • Save Me the Plums: My Gourmet Memoir
  • Writers & Lovers
  • The Fire Next Time
  • A Dangerous Path (Warriors, #5)
  • Life Will Be the Death of Me: . . . and You Too!
  • The Darkest Hour (Warriors, #6)
  • Upright Women Wanted
  • Why Women Have Better Sex Under Socialism: And Other Arguments for Economic Independence
  • Metamorphica
  • The Shepherd's Life: A People's History of the Lake District
  • The Wasp Factory
See similar books…
Edward Hirsch is a celebrated poet and peerless advocate for poetry. He was born in Chicago in 1950—his accent makes it impossible for him to hide his origins—and educated at Grinnell College and the University of Pennsylvania, where he received a Ph.D. in Folklore. His devotion to poetry is lifelong.He has received numerous awards and fellowships, including a MacArthur Fellowship, a Guggenheim Fe ...more

Related Articles

This June, as we observe LGBTQ Pride—the annual celebration of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer/questioning communities—we...
207 likes · 73 comments