Poet's Choice
Edward Hirsch
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Poet's Choice
Edward Hirsch
448 pages
April 2006
rated 5 of 5 possible stars
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Click here to read reviewer Jeanne Lesinski's take on Poet's Choice.

Poetry has always been a critical element of civilization, speaking to the great themes of our lives: love, loss, the modern terrors of a post-9/11 world, the scourge of war and a sustained hope for peace. Poetry “puts us in touch with ourselves,” by its nature addressing every human emotion and universal concept as we interpret, personalize and process.

This collection is universal in appeal, from the general to the personal perspective, our place in a marginalized society and in the grand scheme of things, and our ongoing dialog with history from the perspective of our own experiences. The poem is literally the sound of humanity, the voice of yearning and hope, restoring us to an increasingly alienating world, a private corner of the universe where we find comfort and expression. In the words of “the quintessential woman poet of the North,” Xuan Quynh:

“It’s the season in which nothing can hide.
The whole world is dressed in light.
The sea aqua, the white sails full.
And bitterness turns into poetry.” (Xuan Quynh, “Summer”)
Poet’s Choice is a collection of great poems in an intimate format, the author speaking to the landscape of poetry, the language of each selection and shared anecdotes, rendering each work uniquely accessible: Jorge Luis Borges’ “Nightingale”; Rabindranath Tagore’s “Final Poems”; Nellie Sachs’ “Butterfly”; Pablo Neruda’s “Body of a Woman” and “Walking Around,” to name but a few.

In their natural context, these poems are complex, universally appealing. Thoughtfully assembled, the poets speak the language of the world, past and present in an anthology that begs for a permanent place on a desk or bedside table, an island of personal exploration that expands the souls and heals the heart.

“And so
it has taken me
all of sixty years
to understand
that water is the finest drink,
and bread the most delicious food,
and that art is worthless
unless it plants
a measure of splendor in people’s hearts.” (Taha Muhammad Ali)
To absorb the depth of these poems is to appreciate the differences inherent in the world we inhabit, elevating the consciousness and reaching for the finer self, one with the universe in human experience and the source of hope.

Originally published on Curled Up With A Good Book at www.curledup.com. © Luan Gaines, 2006

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