Synopses & Reviews
A work of art, whether a painting, a dance, a poem, or a jazz composition, can be admired in its own right. But how does the artist actually create his or her work? What is the source of an artist's inspiration? What is the force that impels the artist to set down a vision that becomes art?
In this groundbreaking book, poet and critic Edward Hirsch explores the concept of duende, that mysterious, highly potent power of creativity that results in a work of art. It has been said that Laurence Olivier had it, and so did Ernest Hemingway, but Maurice Evans and John O'Hara did not. Marlon Brando had it but squandered it. Billie Holiday and Bessie Smith had it, and so did Miles Davis.
From Federico García Lorca's wrestling with darkness as he discovered the fountain of words within himself to Martha Graham's creation of her most emotional dances, from the canvases of Robert Motherwell to William Blake's celestial visions, Hirsch taps into the artistic imagination and explains, in terms illuminating and emotional, how different artists respond to the power and demonic energy of creative impulse.
A masterful tour of the minds and thoughts
of writers, poets, painters, and musicians, including
Federico García Lorca
T. S. Eliot
Rainer Maria Rilke
"Absorbing...full of Hirsch's passion." —The New Yorker
"Edward Hirschs “A Poets Glossary” is an instant classic that belongs on the bookshelf of every serious poet and literature student...Hirsch explains them all with the ease of a tour guide who has spent a lifetime learning the territory...The more you read in this insightful book, the more youll feel a part of a communal journey that has continued for thousands of years" —Washington Post"A glossary is useful, welcome, sometimes fun, but rarely, if ever, a catalyst for astonishment. Leave it to revered poet, poetry apostle, and glossator extraordinaire Hirsch (The Living Fire, 2010) to turn this humble resource into a vibrant, polyglot, world-circling, century-spanning, mind-expanding work of profound scholarship and literary art...A thrilling 'repertoire of poetic secrets,' this radiant compendium is shaped by Hirschs abiding gratitude for the demands and power, illumination, and solace of poetry, 'a human fundamental.'" —Booklist (starred review)
"Offering definitions, a discussion of poetic techniques, and an unalloyed spiritual quality to his work...This compilation of stimulating information and of beautiful writing by a master of expression is for all who love language, not just poets." —Library Journal (starred review)
"A lovely book, full of joy and wisdom."-The Baltimore Sun
"Hirsch's contribution is significant, [grounded] in the obvious pleasure he has experienced through words. . . . Who could resist the wiles of this poetry-broker-a writer rapidly becoming the baby boomers' preeminent man of letters?"-Detroit Free Press
"Laudable . . . The answer Hirsch gives to the question of how to read a poem is: Ecstatically."-The Boston Book Review
PRAISE FOR POETS CHOICE"In this loving, enthusiastic guide, one experienced readers warmth and openheartedness help to unlock the treasure of poetry for a world of readers."O, THE OPRAH MAGAZINE
"A deft curator, Hirsch shows you the best vantage point from which to view the 130 poems in this invaluable guide."THE ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION
PRAISE FOR HOW TO READ A POEM
"Laudable . . . The answer Hirsch gives to the question of How to Read a Poem is: Ecstatically."--The Boston Book Review
"A lovely book, full of joy and wisdom."--The Baltimore Sun
"Hirsch takes us forcefully through his love of verse, with welcome technical asides and biographical detours along the way."--Publishers Weekly
"Hirsch, a truly gifted poet and scholar, brings the full heat of his literary passion to this enlightening and deeply moving journey into the heart of poetry."--Booklist
"Hirsch is so steeped in literature, painting, and music, and so voracious in his pursuit of the revelations art delivers, that he's able to articulate the seemingly ineffable through brillant critical analyses and empathic insights into artists' lives....[a] unique, exhilarating, and virtuosic performance." - Booklist
PRAISE FOR HOW TO READ A POEM
"In short, reading Hirsch's How to Read a Poem is like a very long evening with a learned and perceptive friend who keeps leaping to his bookshelf for more and better illustrations, and finding ever more connections and revelations."-NEWSDAY
"A lovely book, full of joy and wisdom."-THE BALTIMORE SUN
"What good company Mary Oliver is!" The Los Angeles Times
A joyful, elegant glossary of poetic terms spanning centuries and continents, from the famed poet and author of the bestselling How to Read a Poem (And Fall in Love with Poetry)
A major addition to the literature of poetry, Edward Hirschs sparkling new work is a compilation of forms, devices, groups, movements, isms, aesthetics, rhetorical terms, and folklore—a book that all readers, writers, teachers, and students of poetry will return to over and over.
Hirsch has delved deeply into the poetic traditions of the world, returning with an inclusive, international compendium. Moving gracefully from the bards of ancient Greece to the revolutionaries of Latin America, from small formal elements to large mysteries, he provides thoughtful definitions for the most important poetic vocabulary, imbuing his work with a lifetime of scholarship and the warmth of a man devoted to his art.
Knowing how a poem works is essential to unlocking its meaning. Hirschs entries will deepen readers relationships with their favorite poems and open greater levels of understanding in each new poem they encounter. Shot through with the enthusiasm, authority, and sheer delight that made How to Read a Poem so beloved, A Poets Glossary is a new classic.
"Read a poem to yourself in the middle of the night. Turn on a single lamp and read it while you're alone in an otherwise dark room or while someone sleeps next to you. Say it over to yourself in a place where silence reigns and the din of culture-the constant buzzing noise that surrounds you-has momentarily stopped. This poem has come from a great distance to find you." So begins this astonishing book by one of our leading poets and critics. In an unprecedented exploration of the genre, Hirsch writes about what poetry is, why it matters, and how we can open up our imaginations so that its message-which is of vital importance in day-to-day life-can reach us and make a difference. For Hirsch, poetry is not just a part of life, it is life, and expresses like no other art our most sublime emotions. In a marvelous reading of world poetry, including verse by such poets as Wallace Stevens, Elizabeth Bishop, Pablo Neruda, William Wordsworth, Sylvia Plath, Charles Baudelaire, and many more, Hirsch discovers the meaning of their words and ideas and brings their sublime message home into our hearts. A masterful work by a master poet, this brilliant summation of poetry and human nature will speak to all readers who long to place poetry in their lives but don't know how to read it.
Edward Hirsch began writing a column called "Poets Choice" in the Washington Post Book World in 2002. This book brings together those enormously popular columns, some of which have been revised and expanded, to present a minicourse in world poetry. Poets Choice includes the work of more than one hundred poets from ancient times to the presentamong them Sappho, W. B. Yeats, Czeslaw Milosz, Primo Levi, Robert Frost, Pablo Neruda, Amy Lowell, Mark Strand, and many moreand shares them with all of Hirschs inimitable enthusiasm and joy. Rich, relevant, and inviting, the book offers us the fruits of a life lived in poetry.
How to Read a Poem is an unprecedented exploration of poetry and feeling. In language at once acute and emotional, distinguished poet and critic Edward Hirsch describes why poetry matters and how we can open up our imaginations so that its message can make a difference. In a marvelous reading of verse from around the world, including work by Pablo Neruda, Elizabeth Bishop, Wallace Stevens, and Sylvia Plath, among many others, Hirsch discovers the true meaning of their words and ideas and brings their sublime message home into our hearts. A masterful work by a master poet, this brilliant summation of poetry and human nature will speak to all readers who long to place poetry in their lives.
Edward Hirsch began writing a column in the Washington Post Book World called "Poet's Choice" in 2002. This book brings together those enormously popular columns, some of which have been revised and expanded, to present a minicourse in world poetry; Poet's Choice includes the work of more than 130 poets-from Asia and the Middle East to Europe and America, from ancient times to the present-and demonstrates how poetry responds to the challenges of our modern world. Rich, relevant, and inviting, the book reveals how poetry both puts us in touch with ourselves and connects us to each other.
I don't want to go on being a root in the dark,
Insecure, stretched out, shivering with sleep,
Going on down, into the moist guts of the earth,
Taking in and thinking, eating every day.
I don't want so much misery.
I don't want to go on as a root and a tomb,
Alone under the ground, a warehouse with corpses,
Half frozen, dying of grief.
-from "WALKING AROUND" by PABLO NERUDA,
translated by ROBERT BLY
"True ease in writing comes from art, not chance, / As those move easiest who have learn'd to dance," wrote Alexander Pope. "The dance," in the case of Oliver's brief and luminous book, refers to the interwoven pleasures of sound and sense to be found in some of the most celebrated and beautiful poems in the English language, from Shakespeare to Edna St. Vincent Millay to Robert Frost. With a poet's ear and a poet's grace of expression, Oliver shows what makes a metrical poem work - and enables readers, as only she can, to "enter the thudding deeps and the rippling shallows of sound-pleasure and rhythm-pleasure that intensify both the poem's narrative and its ideas."
About the Author
Edward Hirsch is a celebrated poet and peerless advocate for poetry. A MacArthur fellow, he has published eight books of poems and four books of prose. He has received numerous awards and fellowships, including a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship, the Rome Prize, a Pablo Neruda Presidential Medal of Honor, and the American Academy of Arts and Letters Award for Literature. He serves as president of the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation and lives in Brooklyn.
Table of Contents
Only Mystery - 1
Invoking the Duende - 3
Poetic Fact - 5
A Mysterious Power - 8
The Hidden Spirit of Disconsolate Spain - 13
An Apprenticeship - 19
Between Eros and Thanatos - 29
The Majesty of the Incomprehensible - 35
A Spectacular Meteor - 39
Swooping In - 45
Ardent Struggle, Endless Vigil - 49
The Black Paintings - 55
The Intermediary - 58
Yeats's Daimon - 65
Ars Poetica? - 72
A Passionate Ingredient - 76
The Yearning Cry of a Shade - 80
I Sing You, Wild Chasm - 85
Night Work - 91
Vegetable Life, Airy Spirit - 96
A Person Must Control His Thoughts in a Dream - 101
The Angelic World - 109
The Story of Jacob's Wrestling with an Angel - 118
Concerning the Angels - 126
The Rilkean Angel - 132
Angel, Still Groping - 141
The New Angel - 147
Three American Angels - 152
Demon or Bird! - 157
Between Two Contending Forces - 162
The Sublime Is Now - 166
In the Painting - 171
Paint It Black - 178
Motherwell's Black - 184
Deaths and Entrances - 191
Ancient Music and Fresh Forms - 196
America Heard in Rhythm - 202
Hey, I'm American, So I Played It - 207
Fending Off the Duende - 213
The Existentialist Flatfoot Floogie - 220
Poet in New York - 222
Where Is the Angel? Where Is the Duende? - 229
Notes - 231
Reading List: The Pleasure of the Text - 279
Acknowledgments - 303
Permissions Acknowledgments - 304
Index - 309