Earthly Measures by Edward Hirsch

Ed Hirsch has written several books since Earthly Measures, but this one was on my shelf and I pulled it out for another read. The book is filled with poems that slow time, meditating on a place or image, and making it rich and alive. There are many poems that take place elsewhere and they make you long to be there. Ed deftly uses the line rhythm and choice of word and sound to transport the reader. It’s gorgeous. It’s what poetry should feel like. Buy here.

From “Four A.M.”


The hour when nothing begets nothing, / the hour of drains and furnaces, // shadows fastened to a blank screen / and the moon floating in the pool of ashes. // The hour of nausea at middle age, / the hour with its face in its hands, // the hour when no one wants to be awake, / the scorned hour, the very pit // of all the other hours, the very dirge. // Let five o’clock come / with its bandages of light. // A life buoy in bruised waters. / The first broken plank of morning.


From “Roman Fall”


. . . And I remember the rich unquarried blues / of the Janiculum at twilight, / The sky veined and chipped like marble, / The wind dipping / and soaring on transparent wings. // We were always stepping off / into the glassy Roman light / And moving back into polluted shadows, / Climbing the penitential stairs / and crossing under arches, . . .


From “Summer Surprised Us”


These first days of summer are like the pail / of blueberries that we poured out together / into the iron sink in the basement-- // a brightness unleashed and spilling over / with tiny bell-shaped flowers, the windows / opened and the shrubs overwhelming the house // like the memory of a forgotten country, Nature, / with its wandering migrations and changing borders, / its thickets, woodlands, bee-humming meadows . . .