What it Means to Live

First learn what it means to live.
The author of yesterdays poem is Jane Hirshfield who said once “I don’t think poetry is based just on poetry; it is based on a thoroughly lived life. And so I couldn’t just decide I was going to write no matter what; I first had to find out what it means to live.” So she went and studied at San Francisco Zen Center for eight years! Here below is a short bio.

Hirshfield published her first poem in 1973, shortly after graduating from Princeton as a member of the university’s first graduating class to include women. She put aside her writing for nearly eight years, however, to study at the San Francisco Zen Center. “I felt that I’d never make much of a poet if I didn’t know more than I knew at that time about what it means to be a human being,” Hirshfield once said. “I don’t think poetry is based just on poetry; it is based on a thoroughly lived life. And so I couldn’t just decide I was going to write no matter what; I first had to find out what it means to live.” “Her poetry speaks to the central issues of human existence—desire and loss, impermanence and beauty, the many dimensions of our connection with others and the wider community of creatures and objects with which we share our lives”.
The New York Times

Thanks go to Julius for finding the author of yesterdays poem and to a Reverend here too who enjoys her work. Jane Hirshfield is prolific, her book titled Nine Gates: Entering the Mind of Poetry sounds promising. Might look into that. I tend to think poetry is something other people do and my short-line efforts are…just playful ramblings with rhythm added.

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4 thoughts on “What it Means to Live”

  1. Perhaps playful ramblings in rhythm too.
    Sounds wonderful. And i wonder how many playful ramblings have led to miracles…just below the surface

    1. Hum. Yes indeed. I think the works of Dogen do something. Perhaps most of the underneath, hidden from view aspect, is lost in translation however something kicks in when I read him. His poems.

  2. Dear Rev. Mugo,

    Ah, Jane Hirshfield! I’m very happy to lend you my copy of Nine Gates: Entering the Mind of Poetry, which I’m sure you’ll enjoy. I often use it as a reference.

    If you have the time and inclination for podcasts, I found this insightful.
    https://www.scottishpoetrylibrary.org.uk/podcast/jane-hirshfield/

    In the meantime, I hope the poem below pleases you as much as it does me!

    Opening the Hands between Here and Here

    On the dark road, only the weight of the rope.
    Yet the horse is there.

    Jane Hirshfield
    Come, Thief (Bloodaxe 2012)

    In gassho

    1. Oh, thanks, Annie I’d love to borrow the book and I’ll look into the podcast. I usually only listen to radio and podcasts to send me to sleep! I’ll take a listen when I want to stay awake. The poem, interesting. Sometimes I feel a bit ‘thick’ when it comes getting poetry. Such words have to grow on me.

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