Friday, January 21, 2022

Poetry Friday: Jane Hirshfield's "I Wanted to Be Surprised"

This one by Jane Hirshfield was published in The New Yorker in 2019. I'm sure it's safe to say that we've all been surprised by a number of things since then. 

What I like about this one is the way it feels true to any time — any time in which humans are living, surprising, disappointing, and reassuring each other. As Hirshfield says: 

Also, the stubborn, courteous persistence.
That even today please means please,
good morning is still understood as good morning,
and that when I wake up,
the window’s distant mountain remains a mountain,
the borrowed city around me is still a city, and standing.

I Wanted to Be Surprised
by Jane Hirshfield 

To such a request, the world is obliging.

Just in the past week, a rotund porcupine,
who seemed equally startled by me.

What should not have been so surprising:
my error after error, recognized when appearing on the faces of others.

What did not surprise enough:
my daily expectation that anything would continue,
and then that so much did continue, when so much did not.


Read the whole thing here


The round up this week is hosted by Tabatha Yeatts at The Opposite of Indifference


Tabatha said...

What an interesting poem! I love the lines you pointed out. It feels like it has the makings of a mentor poem. xo

jama said...

Had not seen this one before. So thought provoking. Thanks for the Hirshfield fix this week!

Linda B said...

So often these months, people do say they want to return to 'normal' yet Hirshfield teaches us that if we really look, "things" have stayed the same. If we hadn't noticed before, It's a comfort, Karen. Thanks for such a thoughtful poem!

Karen Eastlund said...

Yes, I echo all the above. Thought provoking and comforting. Thanks for sharing.

Linda Mitchell said...

Fun first I was irritated by the unfinished thoughts. But, then I saw that it was part of the poem. Kinda brilliant. Different. It made me read it again. It surprised me!

Mary Lee said...

This makes me want to write a list poem of things that surprise and don't.

Rose Cappelli said...

I laughed when I read Mary Lee's comment since I was thinking the same thing! Thanks for sharing this thoughtful poem. It was new to me.

Margaret Simon said...

A poem that leads to deep thought. Surprises can be good and fun but often just crazy and disconcerting. Jane manages to capture this juxtaposition in her poem.

Carol Varsalona said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Carol Varsalona said...

Karen, thank you for this poem that is thought-provoking. What is a surprise and not a surprise-Mary Lee's suggestion of a list poem may be in order. (I deleted a previous comment because of a typo.)

Ruth said...

This is a great one!