Jane Hirshfield’s urgent new collection is a book of personal, ecological and political reckoning. Her poems inscribe a ledger personal and communal, a registry of our time’s and lives’ dilemmas as well as a call to action on climate change, social justice and the plight of refugees. The poems of Ledger record riches, both abiding and squandered, and mourn our failures.
They confirm, too, the continually renewing gift of the present moment, summoning our responsibility as moral beings to sustain one another and the earth’s continuance. Finally, it is the human spirit and the language of poetry – loyal instruments of recognition, humility and praise – that triumph in this stunned, stunning accounting, set forth by a master poet whose voice is tonic and essential, whose breadth of inclusion and fierce awareness rivet attention. Hers is a poetry of clarity and hybrid vigour, drawing deeply on English and American traditions but also those of world poetry.
The poetries of modern and classical Greece, of Horace and Catullus, of classical China and Japan and Eastern Europe all resonate in Jane Hirshfield’s structures of thought and in her sensibilities. Indelibly of our time yet seated in the lineage of poetic discovery, these poems are meant to endure.