Jane Hirshfield – Against Certainty

There is something out in the dark that wants to correct us.
Each time I think “this,” it answers “that.”
Answers hard, in the heart-grammar’s strictness.

If I then say “that,” it too is taken away.

Between certainty and the real, an ancient enmity.
When the cat waits in the path-hedge,
no cell of her body is not waiting.
This is how she is able so completely to disappear.

I would like to enter the silence portion as she does.

To live amid the great vanishing as a cat must live,
one shadow fully at ease inside another.

from After (c) Jane Hirshfield (Newcastle, UK: Bloodaxe Books, 2006)

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Jane Hirshfield
American award-winning poet, essayist and translator, born in 1953, Jane Hirshfield is the author of nine celebrated poetry volumes, two now-classic collections of essays on poetry, “Nine Gates: Entering the Mind of Poetry” (1997) and “Ten Windows: How Great Poems Transform the World” (2015), and four books collecting the work of world poets from the past: “The Ink Dark Moon: Poems by Ono no Komachi and Izumi Shikibu, Women of the Ancient Court of Japan” (1990); “Women in Praise of the Sacred: Forty-Three Centuries of Spiritual Poetry by Women” (1994); “Mirabai: Ecstatic Poems” (2004); e “The Heart of Haiku” (2011). Her poetry books include: “Alaya” (1982), “Of Gravity & Angels” (1988), “The October Palace” (1994), “The Lives of the Heart” (1997), “Given Sugar, Given Salt” (2001), “After” (2006), “Come, Thief” (2011), “The Beauty” (2015) and “Ledger” (2020). In recent decades, Hirshfield has become increasingly known as a poet working at the intersection of poetry, the sciences, and the crisis of the biosphere. Hirshfield has been a visiting poet at Stanford University and UC-Berkeley, and served on the faculty of Bennington’s MFA Writing Seminars. Her many awards include fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Rockefeller Foundation, and the Guggenheim Foundation. Other honors include the Poetry Center Book Award, Columbia University’s Translation Center Award, the Bay Area Book Reviewer’s Award, the California Book Award, and the Hall-Kenyon Award, as well as ten selections in “The Best American Poetry”. In 2004, Hirshfield received the Academy Fellowship from the Academy of American Poets and in 2012, she was elected a chancellor of the Academy of American Poets. In 2019, Hirshfield was inducted into the American Academy of Arts & Sciences.