Jane Hirshfield made a welcome return to Scotland yesterday with a reading at the Scottish Poetry Library, Edinburgh. Her new book, Come, Thief, is a meditation on time and the fragility of life and it ranges in subject from the pleasures of daily chores to musings on the lost poems of Sappho and many observations of human nature as part of the natural world - a relationship we often forget: A dog coming in from the rain is 'A chaotic rainstorm/Walking on four big paws' and melons in a field are viewed sensously: 'An unexpected weight/the sign of their ripeness.' Or there is this, the poignant opening to a poem about someone's decline in old age: 'November. One pear/Sways on the tree past leaves, past reason.'
In the audience were many who first saw Jane at StAnza 2005 and the poet herself recalled how important that festival visit was in bringing her work to the UK. Bloodaxe publisher Neil Astley, who was also at the festival, went on to publish her work: her collected volume Each Happiness Ringed by Lions and the collection, After, which was shortlisted for the T. S. Eliot prize in 2006. Find out more about them at Bloodaxe.
Jane gave an inspiring talk about her own poetry practice after her reading. For some similar thoughts, listen to Jane talking about her work to SPL podcaster Ryan van Winkle here