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The Living Fire

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Description

A rich and significant collection of more than one hundred poems, drawn from a lifetime of “wild gratitude” in poetry.

In poems chronicling insomnia (“the blue-rimmed edge / of outer dark, those crossroads / where we meet the dead”), art and culture (poems on Edward Hopper and Paul Celan, love poems in the voices of Baudelaire and Gertrude Stein, a meditation on two suitcases of children’s drawings that came out of the Terezin concentration camp), and his own experience, including the powerful, frank self-examinations in his more recent work, Edward Hirsch displays stunning range and quality. Repeatedly confronting the darkness, his own sense of godlessness (“Forgive me, faith, for never having any”), he also struggles with the unlikely presence of the divine, the power of art to redeem human transience, and the complexity of relationships. Throughout the collection, his own life trajectory enriches the poems; he is the “skinny, long-beaked boy / who perched in the branches of the old branch library,” as well as the passionate middle-aged man who tells his lover, “I wish I could paint you— / . . . / I need a brush for your hard angles / and ferocious blues and reds. / . . . / I wish I could paint you / from the waist down.”

Grieving for the losses occasioned by our mortality, Hirsch’s ultimate impulse as a poet is to praise—to wreathe himself, as he writes, in “the living fire” that burns with a ferocious intensity.

From the Hardcover edition.

From Publishers Weekly

Jan 25, 2010 – Hirsch, a longtime poetry teacher and now the president of the Guggenheim Foundation, is an accessible and widely beloved poet and advocate for poetry. His work combines a playful, tender sense of humor, awareness of Jewish heritage, love for and identification with Central European and Russian poetry, and an intimate American voice that seeks to elucidate what mysteries it can. This, his first retrospective collection, selects from each of his seven previous collections, published between 1981 and 2008. The early poems attempt to characterize people in terms of and against the everyday world that surrounds them, and the art that depicts that world, as in “Still Life: An Argument”: “the knife/ keeps falling and falling, but never/ falls. That knife could be us.” Middle poems pay homage to and learn from classical culture and world religions: “...I believe the saint:/ Nothing stays the same/ in the shimmering heat.” More recent poems confront aging and family (“My father in the night shuffling from room to room/ is no longer a father or a husband or a son,// but a boy standing on the edge of a forest”), while the newest wonder about the poet’s own mortality, and track love lost and found. Hirsch has many wise things to say; this book is a trove of them.
The Living Fire
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  • $13.99
  • Available on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac.
  • Category: Poetry
  • Published: Mar 09, 2010
  • Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
  • Seller: Penguin Random House LLC
  • Print Length: 256 Pages
  • Language: English
  • Requirements: To view this book, you must have an iOS device with iBooks 1.3.1 or later and iOS 4.3.3 or later, or a Mac with iBooks 1.0 or later and OS X 10.9 or later.

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