Ten Windows: How Great Poems Transform the World



“Poetry often enacts the recovering of emotional and metaphysical balance, whether in an individual (primarily the lyric poem’s task) or in a culture (the task of the epic). Yet to do that work, a poem needs to retain within its words some of the disequilibrium that called it forth, and to include when it is finished some sense also of uncomfortable remainder, the undissolvable residue carried over – disorder and brokenness are necessarily part of human wholeness.”

~ From Ten Windows: How Great Poems Transform the World,

by Jane Hirshfield


This book is a poetry lover’s feast. Best read slowly, consciously, fully awake and wide open. It is the structure of a poem turned outward, an exoskeleton. It’s what we are made of, what poetry is made of. Creaturely and ethereal, thick with deep wisdom.

And even though Ten Windows reveals in intimate, intricate detail, what a poem is, what a poem has the unlimited capacity to do, the essence of poetry – its divine mystery – remains.

Perhaps this is what the best poems do for us. Expose our private existence to itself in ways that make us at once comfortable and uncomfortable with what we are.

A beautiful poem, a good and true and raw poem, covets us, wants to know us, wants us inside. The art and the artist need each other. Require each other.

All life, it seems, craves a relationship with itself.



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