Sunday, December 6, 2009

An Excerpt from Poet's Choice by Edward Hirsch

Poet's Choice by Edward Hirsch

Edward Hirsch began writing a column called "Poet’s Choice" in the Washington Post Book World in 2002. This book brings together those enormously popular columns, some of which have been revised and expanded, to present a minicourse in world poetry. Poet’s Choice includes the work of more than one hundred poets from ancient times to the present—among them Sappho, W. B. Yeats, Czeslaw Milosz, Primo Levi, Robert Frost, Pablo Neruda, Amy Lowell, Mark Strand, and many more—and shares them with all of Hirsch’s inimitable enthusiasm and joy. Rich, relevant, and inviting, the book offers us the fruits of a life lived in poetry.

Here is a poem from the collection Scars by Bulgarian poet Blaga Dimitrova.

Ars Poetica
Write each of your poems
as if it were your last.
In this century, saturated with strontium,
charged with terrorism,
flying with supersonic speed,
death comes with terrifying suddenness.
Send each of your words
like a last letter before execution,
a call carved on a prison wall.
You have no right to lie,
no right to play pretty little games.
You simply won't have time
to correct your mistakes.
Write each of your poems,
tersely, mercilessly,
with blood — as if it were your last.

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