The October Palace: Poems

Jane Hirshfield, Author, Jane Hirschfield, Author
Jane Hirshfield, Author, Jane Hirschfield, Author Harper Perennial $22 (93p) ISBN 978-0-06-055348-7
Paperback - 112 pages - 978-0-06-096997-4
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This collection by Hirshfield ( Of Gravity and Angels ), her third, gives us poems grounded in Buddhist thought and the poet's relationship to nature: ``Whatever asks, heart kneels and offers to bear.'' This action of the heart, she implies, is what enables us to reconcile opposites, as Hirshfield does gravely and gracefully in ``The Task,'' writing of a house ``where the leaf-flocked / sunlight never reaches, but the earth still blooms.'' In other poems, instead of allowing the lightness of touch that might follow a Buddhist steadiness of purpose, she insists, ``Everyone loves this way, / in gold honey.'' In another, she writes, ``It is only a sign / of the tree looking out / from the tree, / of the light looking / back at the light.'' These are surmises that no human experience can verify, and sometimes the writing is not urgent or beautiful enough to convince. Other poems are more straightforward, and in particular, her writing about animals assures us we are hearing a truth about the world (and not simply what the poet wants to believe is true). In ``The Love of Aged Horses,'' Hirshfield writes about two horses, soon to be separated: ``From ear-flick to tail-switch, they stand in one body. / No luck is as boundless as theirs.'' The richest of these poems are finely crafted and delicately thought out. (Mar.)
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