I love this poem!

“This Was Once a Love Poem,” by Jane Hirshfield from Given Sugar, Given Salt (Harper Collins), posted on Writer’s Almanac.
This Was Once a Love Poem
This was once a love poem,
before its haunches thickened, its breath grew short,
before it found itself sitting,
perplexed and a little embarrassed,
on the fender of a parked car,
while many people passed by without turning their heads.
It remembers itself dressing as if for a great engagement.
It remembers choosing these shoes,
this scarf or tie.
Once, it drank beer for breakfast,
drifted its feet
in a river side by side with the feet of another.
Once it pretended shyness, then grew truly shy,
dropping its head so the hair would fall forward,
so the eyes would not be seen.
It spoke with passion of history, of art.
It was lovely then, this poem.
Under its chin, no fold of skin softened.
Behind the knees, no pad of yellow fat.
What it knew in the morning it still believed at nightfall.
An unconjured confidence lifted its eyebrows, its cheeks.
The longing has not diminished.
Still it understands. It is time to consider a cat,
the cultivation of African violets or flowering cactus.
Yes, it decides:
many miniature cacti, in blue and red painted pots.
When it finds itself disquieted
by the pure and unfamiliar silence of its new life,
it will touch them-one, then another-
with a single finger outstretched like a tiny flame.

7 thoughts on “I love this poem!

  1. This is not specifically about the poem (although I think it is wonderful)…yesterday I forgot, I wanted to chat with you about Zuboff’s book(s). But it will keep until next time!

  2. In my usual fragmented way, I got sidetracked and haven’t finished her book. I’ll sure try to have it done by the time we get together again for lunch — which btw, I really enjoyed, and especially the home made peanutbutter/chocolate bars you brought me. Yumm.

  3. Do you accept comments from someone of the mail persuasion? I too love Jane Hirshfield’s poem. Can you recommend a site that discusses interpretations?

  4. These are equal opportunity comments. Offhand, I don’t know of any sites that discuss interpretations of specific poems, but there’s nothing stopping you from doing so in my comments. I’d be interested to read what you think.

  5. I am not a poem specialist or a poet
    but a reader and divine listener
    I read many and memorize as much as possible
    I love poems because they endear upon
    your true love an animal a man or a woman
    they inspire you and keep your spirit whole
    alive and forever young
    I don’t spend time with any woman
    there are few I look up to
    but only one I find most fare
    attractive and so gorgeous
    when I see this woman
    her appearance doesn’t attract me
    just her eyes nose and cheeks
    are all together lovely
    take care poem lovers of the world
    remember to sing love and joy
    to those whom you care about
    that is your fire your love
    who art in the secret places of the stairs
    and hidden as the most fine gold
    til you make your love known to the world…
    oh yeah I love this poem by this woman
    Jane Harshfield
    a friend in time

  6. “This Was Once A Love Poem” is a lovely poem written neither for mere loveliness nor for love of, or to, anyone in particular. Its target is transpersonal.
    Here, Jane refers to the experential basis as “it”. Her body relates to it as a conceptual symbol alongside mind and everything else including Nothing. By it she gains a level of objectivity in describing, as details of the poem, past observations of and about herself. These she combines in seemingly free and natural order. Working with fluent control of language strongly intended in a mind of poetic facility and skilled craftsmanship long studied & practiced, she shows a reader facets of her vision of herself while giving indication of that
    ulterior “self” or bodhi which is the source and goal of Zen. In short, by drawing on details of her “phenomenal” person she reveals the “noumenon”. Between these two poles her vibrant life pulsates.

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