The very fine poetry of Jane Hirshfield has been featured in several earlier blog postings. And below, again -- with some lines from "Ledger," the title poem for her new collection, out this month. These lines find, as Hirshfield often does, both life-truths and poetry in numbers.
Ledger by Jane Hirshfield
Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin is 3,592 measures.
A voice kept far from feeling is heard as measured.
What’s wanted in desperate times are desperate measures.
Pushkin’s unfinished Onegin: 5,446 lines.
No visible tears measure the pilot’s grief
as she Lidars the height of an island: five feet.
Fifty, its highest leaf.
She logs the years, the weathers, the tree has left.
. . .
Bees do not question the sweetness of what sways beneath them.
One measure of distance is meters. Another is li.
Ten thousand li can be translated: “far.”
For the exiled, home can be translated “then,” translated “scar.”
. . .