Monday, March 16, 2020

Keeping Track -- poetry with numbers

      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.”
          . . .

Hirshfield's complete "Ledger" may be found here -- 
and thanks to Sarah Glaz who first alerted me to this fine poem.
Lots more poems by Hirshfield are available here at Poetry International.

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