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Jane Hirshfield on Essays:

Poems, despite the ways they are sometimes taught, are not crossword-puzzle constructions. First drafts, and the many stages of revision, take place at a level closer to daydream. But daydream with an added intensity: while writing, the mind moves between consciousness and the unconscious in the effortless effort of concentration. The result…a poem that brims with its own knowledge.

~Nine Gates: Entering the Mind of Poetry

The gift of poetry is that its seeing is not our usual seeing, its hearing is not our usual hearing, its knowing is not our usual knowing, its will is not our usual will. In a poem, everything travels both inward and outward.

~Ten Windows: How Poems Transform the World

On Japanese Translation:

Lying alone,
My black hair tangled,
I long for the one
Who touched it first.

~ Izumi Shikibu, 11th c Lady of the Imperial Court
The Ink Dark Moon

The moon and sun are travelers of a hundred generations. The years, coming and going, are wanderers too. Spending a lifetime adrift on boat decks, greeting old age while holding a horse by the mouth ~ for such a person, each day is a journey, and the journey itself is home.

~ Matsuo Basho, 17th c itinerant poet
Ten Windows: How Poems Transform the World

Of Poems:

Amor Fati

Little soul,
You have wandered
lost a long time.

The woods are all dark now,
birded and eyed.

Then a light, a cabin, a fire, a door standing open.

The fairy tales warn you:
Do not go in,
you who would eat will be eaten.

You go in. You quicken.

You want to have feet.
You want to have eyes.
You want to have fears.

Sixth Extinction

It took with it
the words that could have described it.


Most of us hungry at daybreak, sleepy by dark.
Some slept, one eye open, in water.
Some could trot.
Some of us lived till morning. Some did not.