The Promise | Poem by Jane Hirshfield

Jane Hirshfield, who lives in the San Francisco Bay area, is one of our country’s finest poets, and I have never seen a poem of hers that I didn’t admire. Here’s a fine one that I see as being about our inability to control the world beyond us.

Jane Hirshfield, who lives in the San Francisco Bay area, is one of our country’s finest poets, and I have never seen a poem of hers that I didn’t admire. Here’s a fine one that I see as being about our inability to control the world beyond us.

The Promise

Stay, I said

to the cut flowers.

They bowed

their heads lower.

Stay, I said to the spider,

who fled.

Stay, leaf.

It reddened,

embarrassed for me and itself.

Stay, I said to my body.

It sat as a dog does,

obedient for a moment,

soon starting to tremble.

Stay, to the earth

of riverine valley meadows,

of fossiled escarpments,

of limestone and sandstone.

It looked back

with a changing expression, in silence.

Stay, I said to my loves.

Each answered,

Always.

American Life in Poetry is made possible by The Poetry Foundation (www.poetryfoundation.org), publisher of Poetry magazine. It is also supported by the Department of English at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Poem copyright ©2011 by Jane Hirshfield, from her most recent book of poems, Come, Thief, Alfred A. Knopf, 2011. Poem reprinted by permission of Jane Hirshfield and the publisher. Introduction copyright © 2012 by The Poetry Foundation. The introduction’s author, Ted Kooser, served as United States Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress from 2004-2006. We do not accept unsolicited manuscripts.

More in Life

What to do with bats | Public Health Insider

Know how to safely deal with bats and keep yourself protected from rabies.

Big assist in diabetes awareness

Seattle Sounder Jordan Morris visited Dieringer elementary schools last week.

This political biography is unlike any others

Sometimes, it’s good to take account. You’ll know where you stand when… Continue reading

New Enumclaw wine bar aims for broad audience

Bordeaux Wine Bar is scheduled to be open Wednesdays through Sundays.

Once you start “The Last Cowboys,” you won’t want to stop

You can’t take it with you. People have tried for millennia to… Continue reading

Fishing derby set for April 28, courtesy of Buckley Kiwanis

Grab your fishing rod and head down to the pond at Uncle John’s RV Park.

The power of the powwow | Slideshow

Enumclaw High School and the Muckleshoot Indian Tribe put together the 23rd annual powwow last weekend.

Past the gushing, gruesome details ‘The Trauma Cleaner’ is worth a read

Wash your hands thoroughly. That’s good advice, no matter where you are.… Continue reading

‘They Lost Their Heads’ should help answer your questions

Your neck bone’s connected to your back bone. And that’s a good… Continue reading

Sometimes to have faith, all you need is to believe

Today, you are feeling secure. The world’s woes don’t worry you this… Continue reading

Two free park days in April | Washington State Parks Commission

For April 14 and April 22, you won’t need a Discover Pass to visit state parks.

If you could turn back time, would you?

If you could, would you take it all back? Every misunderstanding, cross… Continue reading