Poet Jane Hirshfield said "... the feeling I have about poem-writing (is) that it is always an exploration, of discovering something I didn't already know.  Who I am shifts from moment to moment, year to year.  What I can perceive does as well.  A new poem peers into mystery, into whatever lies just beyond the edge of knowable ground."

I bring a different poem to the writing classes each week, not only to inspire but to introduce new poets to the group members.

All Souls by Jane Hirshfield

In Italy, on the day of the dead, 
they ring bells,
from every church and village in every direction.
At the usual times, the regular bells of the hour—
eleven strokes, twelve.  Oar strokes
laid over the bottomless water and air.
But the others?  Tuneless, keyless,  
rhythm of wings at the door of the hive 
when the entrance is suddenly shuttered
and the bees, returned heavy, see
that the world of flowering and pollen is over.
There can be no instruction  
to make this.  Undimensioned
the tongues of the bells,
the ropes of the bells, their big iron bodies unholy.
Barred from form. Barred from bars, 
from relation.  The beauty—unspeakable—
was beauty.  I drank it and thirsted, 
I stopped.  I ran.  Wanted closer in every direction.
Each bell stroke released without memory  
or judgment, unviolent, untender.  Uncaring.
And yet: existent.  Something trembling.
I— who have not known bombardment—
have never heard so naked a claim
of the dead on the living, to know them.

~ from The Beauty (Alfred A. Knopf, 2015)


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