Edward Hirsch's book Living Fire: New and Selected Poems
Photo: Knopf (cover) Julie Dermansky (author)
Edward Hirsch's parents wanted him, their eldest son, to be a lawyer or a doctor, not a poet. Though he grew up in a middle-class home without books, Hirsch started writing poetry as a teenager and instantly knew that poetry was his life's purpose. Thirty-five years later, he has an impressive body of work. Living Fire: New and Selected Poems brings together the best of his verses and serves as an example of what it means to follow your passion.




After a Long Insomniac Night


I walked down to the sea in the early morning
after a long insomniac night.


I climbed over the giant gull-colored rocks
and moved past the trees,
tall dancers stretching their limbs
and warming up in the blue light.


I entered the salty water, a penitent
whose body was stained,
and swam toward a red star rising
in the east—regal, purple-robed.


One shore disappeared behind me
and another beckoned.
                                     I confess
that I forgot the person I had been
as easily as the clouds drifting overhead.


My hands parted the water.
The wind pressed at my back, wings
and my soul floated over the whitecapped waves.



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