COME, THIEF by Jane Hirshfield (93 pages. Alfred A. Knopf. $25). “Come, Thief” is a book of silences, with titles like “Rain Thinking,” “The Tongue Says Loneliness” and “One Loss Folds Itself inside Another.” But it’s a mistake to take the book’s quiet for reticence, because “Thief,” Ms. Hirshfield’s seventh collection of poems, is a deep well full of strength and wisdom. She knows that “Wrong solitude vinegars the soul,/right solitude oils it” (“Vinegar and Oil”), that “A man dies over and over again on the news” (“Fourth World”), that “pain after it’s ended stays in the body” (“Seawater Stiffens Cloth”).
Ms. Hirshfield is obsessed with angles of perception. In “Everything Has Two Endings” she reminds us that “silence is not silence, but a limit of hearing.” And she knows that each moment, each object has more than one story to tell. In “Stone and Knife” she writes:
One angle blunts, another sharpens.
Loss also: stone & knife.
Some griefs augment the heart,
Her quiet authority brings to mind the strong and lean work done by other poets past the age of 50, books like “The Great Fires” by Jack Gilbert and “Moment to Moment” by David Budbill.
Causes Jane Hirshfield Supports
International Campaign for Tibet