Pages: 368 pages
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (1999)
Language: English
ISBN-13: 978-0156005661


Editorial Reviews

“If you begin with his straightforward book, you may be led to a life of reading poetry, and reading about it. Hirsch is particularly good because he so respects the mystery [of poetry]. A lovely book, full of joy and wisdom."

 The Baltimore Sun


“Laudable...The answer Hirsch gives to the question of how to read a poem is: Ecstatically.”

 — Boston Book Review


“Hirsch, a truly gifted poet and scholar, brings the full heat of his literary passion to this enlightening and deeply moving journey into the heart of poetry.... Hirsch offers many soul-touching examples over the course of his poetic, erudite, and generously self-disclosing celebration of poetry from the days of Ovid to the present. As Hirsch deftly analyzes the nature of lyric poems, dramatic monologues, elegies, and odes, he conducts close readings of the work of a stellar group of poets only he would select… Hirsch’s magnificent text is supported by an extensive glossary and superb international reading list.”



"In short, reading Hirsch's How to Read a Poem is like a very long evening with a learned and perceptive friend who keeps leaping to his bookshelf for more and better illustrations, and finding ever more connections and revelations"



“Edward Hirsch is a passionate and careful reader, and the best parts of his book are his rapturously analytic readings of great poems…[Hirsch provides] exactly the tools a reader needs in order to read poetry in a fully emotional and intelligent way.”

The Boston Phoenix Literary Supplement


“If you are pretty sure you don’t like poetry, this is the book that is bound to change your mind. Hirsch demonstrates to one and all that the reading of poems is one of the supreme pleasures in life.”

— Charles Simic


“In his latest volume, Hirsch writes about what poetry is, why it matters, and how we can open up our imaginations so that its message can reach us and make a difference. In a reading of verse from around the world, including works by Stevens, Baudelaire, Plath, and Neruda, Hirsch discovers the meaning of their words and ideas and brings their sublime message home.” 

The American Poet


“Readers will be delighted by Hirsch’s intelligent enthusiasm and, in a time when too many are ‘prisoners of the contemporary,’ by his extraordinary conversancy with poetry of all tongues and ages.”

— Richard Wilbur


“Hirsch’s contribution is significant, [grounded] in the obvious pleasure he has experienced through words…. Who could resist the wiles of this poetry broker--a writer rapidly becoming the baby boomers’ pre-eminent man of letters?”

Detroit Free Press (starred review)


“This book is the product of a lifetime of passionate reflection. Edward Hirsch has written a book that does for poetry what Robert Hughes did for modern art in The Shock of the New, and what Cornel West does for multiculturalism in Race Matters. Hirsch writes about political suffering, word magic and sensuous splendor, and the urge for human song. How to Read a Poem is a wonderful book for laureate and layman both.”

 — Garrett Hongo


“In a book of compelling, engaging prose, one of our country’s most distinguished poets connects us knowingly to his craft--helps us to appreciate the magic of language as it grows within us, and shapes our way of seeing and hearing others and our understanding of the world.”

— Robert Coles




Pages: 368 pages
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (1999)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 978-0156005661