One of the things I like about poetry is the marvelous efficiency of conveying meaning with a few carefully chosen words. This week’s selection from American Life in Poetry is a great example of this.
American Life in Poetry: Column 227
BY TED KOOSER, U.S. POET LAUREATE
Jane Hirshfield, a Californian and one of my favorite poets, writes beautiful image-centered poems of clarity and concision, which sometimes conclude with a sudden and surprising deepening. Here’s just one example.
under stars in a field.
They lie under rain in a field.
are like this as well—
like a painting
hidden beneath another painting.
An unexpected weight
the sign of their ripeness.American Life in Poetry is made possible by The Poetry Foundation (www.poetryfoundation.org), publisher of Poetry magazine. It is also supported by the Department of English at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Poem copyright ©2008 by Jane Hirshfield, whose most recent book of poems is After, Harper Collins, 2006. Poem reprinted from Alaska Quarterly, Vol. 25, nos. 3 & 4, Fall & Winter, 2008, by permission of Jane Hirshfield and the publisher. Introduction copyright © 2009 by The Poetry Foundation. The introduction’s author, Ted Kooser, served as United States Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress from 2004-2006. We do not accept unsolicited manuscripts.