In these powerful and “achingly beautiful” (Booklist) poems of self-examination and openness from one of the cornerstones of the poetry world, Edward Hirsch assesses “the minor triumphs, the major failures” of his life, and the people and places that have colored it.

Pages: 80 pages
Publisher: Knopf (2008)
Language: English
ISBN-13: 978-0375711558

Special Orders

Give me back my father walking the halls
of Wertheimer Box and Paper Company
with sawdust clinging to his shoes.

Give me back his tape measure and his keys,
his drafting pencil and his order forms;
give me his daydreams on lined paper.

I don’t understand this uncontainable grief.
Whatever you had that never fit,
whatever else you needed, believe me,

my father, who wanted your business,
would squat down at your side
and sketch you a container for it.


Connect literature: A Conversation on Writing with Edward Hirsch

Big Think Interview With Edward Hirsch


“Hirsch trusts language’s power to illuminate and heal, and his achingly beautiful poems do nothing less.”
— Donna Seaman, Booklist

“[Special Orders is] a chronicle of the triumphs and failings of life that is no doubt supersaturated with his delightful, instructive allusions to the greats of yore.”
New York

“Reading Hirsch’s poems, you suspect that the duende has walked through the New York subway stations and Chicago parking garages, has hung out at baseball fields and at the movies, has haunted the stacks of public libraries and the paths through municipal parks. Hirsch situates himself between the ordinary and the ecstatic. The everyday and the otherworldly temper each other in these excellent ­poems, and American poetry gains new strength as a result.”
— Peter Campion, The New York Times Book Review

“When a Hirsch poem strikes its mark, you feel the utter necessity of its impulse: language unveiling the lived moment.”
— Steven Ratiner, The Washington Post


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