Jane Hirshfield is a visionary, profoundly original American writer whose poems ask nothing less than what it is to be human. Both sensual meditations and passionate investigations, they reveal complex truths in language luminous and precise. Rooted in the living world, her poems celebrate and elucidate a hard-won affirmation of our human fate. Born of a rigorous questioning of heart, spirit and mind, they have become indispensable to many American readers in navigating their own lives.
Following the publication of her retrospective Each Happiness Ringed by Lions: Selected Poems in 2005, Bloodaxe has published Jane Hirshfield's later collections in the UK: After (2006), a Poetry Book Society Choice which was shortlisted for the T.S. Eliot Prize, Come Thief (2012), The Beauty (2015) and Ledger (2020).
Come, Thief centres on the beauty and fragility of our lives, touching on love, science, ageing and mortality, war and the political, the revelatory daily object, and the full embrace of an existence that time cannot help but steal from our arms. Whether delving into intimately familiar moments or bringing forward some experience until now outside words, Hirshfield finds for each facet of our lives its transformative portrait, its particular memorable, singing and singular name.
‘Hirshfield’s lucid poems are philosophical and sensuous, concise yet mysterious… Wittily deductive and metaphysically resplendent, Hirshfield’s supple and knowing poems reflect her long view, her quest for balance, and her exuberant participation in the circle dance of existence’ – Donna Seaman, Booklist, on Come, Thief
‘Come Thief is a book of silences… a deep well full of strength and wisdom’ – Dana Jennings, New York Times
‘Come, Thief is as much the accomplishment of a life in poetry as it is of a life given to inner investigation of what it means to be a human being’ – Afaa M. Weaver, Orion
‘Clear-eyed and often numinous poems…a deepening attention to every aspect of human experience, from the dailiness of our lives to the most ineffable moments’ – Steven Ratiner, Washington Post
‘Jane Hirshfield is a poet very close to my heart’ – Wislawa Szymborska
‘A profound empathy for the suffering of all living beings…It is precisely this that I praise in the poetry of Jane Hirshfield…In its highly sensuous detail, her poetry illuminates the Buddhist virtue of mindfulness’ – Czeslaw Milosz, Prze Kroj (Poland)
‘Her poetry is a rich and assured gift…an extraordinary intertwining of cherished detail and passionate abstraction…The poems’ realised ambition is wisdom’ – Alison Brackenbury, Agenda
‘Poems of quiet wisdom, steeped in a profound understanding of what it it to be human’ – The Scotsman
Jane Hirshfield reads seven poems
Jane Hirshfield reads seven poems from Each Happiness Ringed by Lions: Selected Poems (2005) and After (2006): ‘Pyracantha and Plum’, ‘The Envoy’, ‘The Poet’, ‘The Weighing’, ‘Burlap Sack’, ‘Tree’ and ‘It Was Like This: You Were Happy’. Pamela Robertson-Pearce filmed Jane Hirshfield in London in October 2006 when she was visiting London to read at Poetry International. This film is from the DVD-anthology In Person: 30 Poets, filmed by Pamela Robertson-Pearce & edited by Neil Astley (Bloodaxe Books, 2008).
North America: Alfred A. Knopf