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« Happy birthday, Doris Day: Big Band Singer Par Excellence | Main | A Conversation with Poet and Editor, Philip Brady [by Nin Andrews and Amanda Rabaduex] »

April 03, 2022


This is my creed. I will recite it daily — yes, Catholic convert that I am.

Powerful. And a great painting. Who is Neo Rauch? What an interesting name -- meaning "new smoke," bilingually.

David: Rauch is a contemporary German painter. See

Thank you, Edward Hirsch, for yet another of your great poems that enters me so totally. Such purity in this inimitable voice and in these soulful lines.

Beautiful poem Ed. Great to see your photo and your poem. Many years. lv, Barb

Thanks for this one, Terence. It speaks to me--seems almost to speak about me. "(I) made remarks I shouldn't have made. I was silent when I should have spoken." Yes, that's me, but I would never have put it so succinctly, with such honest pain. Thank you, Edward Hirsch.

"I was silent/when I should have spoken." You are speaking here Edward, in clear, intelligible and searing words. I think of Icarus falling in the background while the picnickers continue with their Sunday repast. We are all walking while elsewhere thousands are being slaughtered. Guilt is universal and inspiration for poetry. Thank you for this poem which does not elude me. I am not God, not even useful for a scene or two, but I am taking this poem away with me from the theater.

Thank you


Indran Amirthanayagam (Publisher Beltway Editions (

A poem that is both gorgeous and true! I'm thinking of my own Catholic childhood and the lines from the Confiteor prayer that still haunt me..."that I have greatly sinned, in my thoughts and in my words, in what I have done and in what I have failed to do..." This poem is a secular version of that very sentiment.

Howard: Thanks for the comment.

The sublime made sweet and beautiful. How a poem is holy work.

Wonderful, as so often with Ed Hirsch. And the painting accompanying, strange and right.

A poem that wakes a reader up to things she already knew and can agree with. A gentle reminder, beautifully rendered.

We can debate attainability, but the highest calling of poetry is to express the inexpressible or, less loftily, to tease out the untouched. The verse of Edward Hirsch consistently does that, and “A Partial History of My Stupidity” is further evidence of his gift. His setup (a banal term, I admit) comes concisely in the second line: “I took the road to the right, the wrong one.” Even an inchoate summoning of Frost’s “The Road Not Taken” cannot dampen the frisson of that line. (Indran Amirthanayagam’s allusion to Auden’s “Musée des Beaux Arts” in his comment about this Hirsch poem is likewise spot on.) Hirsch has an inimitable way of cutting to the core with stark, startling statements arrived through frank, self-exposing insights rendered in taut imagery and demotic language. Even the two-line reference to reading “the Stoics” fits seamlessly. He’s tough on himself--if the poem’s “I” can be construed that way. That naked candor also shakes up readers clinging to their own illusory, inner-directed lives as he limns in these two lines with a pivotal line break: “I felt that I was living the wrong life, / spiritually speaking.” Aren’t we all poseurs in some way? Once more, it’s a superb poem by Edward Hirsch--and another superb choice of poem by Terence Winch.

Earle: thanks for that insightful comment. Another excellent mini essay.

Hirsch offers us this striking history whose individual gems build well upon one another--the speaker is uncanny in his choice of confessions and regrets. The comic and tragic notes meld wonderfully--we celebrate wisdom and mirth as much as we do stupidity in this great lyric. And note the wry inclusion of "partial" in the title--if only we could sample other entries that the speaker might've included!

Beautiful poem, Ed. You expressed the thoughts and feelings that seize so many of us in the odd moments of our days. We can always begin again.

So glad to see I'm not the only stupid poet out there -- although I suspect that I'm being led astray there. If stupid poets really write smart poems, I may have it made.

As one who does not have faith, the poet offers us some remarkable spiritual speaking. God eluded him, but is he not somewhat like Francis Thompson, who tried to elude God, the Hound of Heaven? Whoever is eluding whom, it seems the chase still goes on.

Really wonderful.

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That Ship Has Sailed
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"Lively and affectionate" Publishers Weekly


I left it
on when I
left the house
for the pleasure
of coming back
ten hours later
to the greatness
of Teddy Wilson
"After You've Gone"
on the piano
in the corner
of the bedroom
as I enter
in the dark

from New and Selected Poems by David Lehman


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