Early Sunday Morning
I used to mock my father and his chums
for getting up early on Sunday morning
and drinking coffee at a local spot,
but now I’m one of those chumps.
No one cares about my old humiliations,
but they go on dragging through my sleep
like a string of empty tin cans rattling
behind an abandoned car.
It’s like this: just when you think
you have forgotten that red-haired girl
who left you stranded in a parking lot
forty years ago, you wake up
early enough to see her disappearing
around the corner of your dream
on someone else’s motorcycle,
roaring onto the highway at sunrise.
And so now I’m sitting in a dimly lit
café full of early-morning risers,
where the windows are covered with soot
and the coffee is warm and bitter.
“What makes Hirsch so singular in American poetry is the balance he strikes between the quotidian and something completely other—an irrational counterforce, the ‘living fire’ that gives its name to his new selected poems…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
“Throughout The Living Fire we find work rooted in the old-fashioned concept of the poem as a tool for discovery, whether the subject lies in the self or our shared world. 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
“Edward Hirsch’s For the Sleepwalkers was the best poetic debut of the eighties. Poems from that book enter into conversation with those from six others to create a dialogue that moves from the literary to the historical to the spiritual to the personal. In a year of amazing ‘Selected Poems,’ this may be the finest.”
– Dean Rader, San Francisco Chronicle
“Lovers of modern American verse have been blessed with a splendid new compilation.”
– Geoffrey Johnson, Chicago Magazine
“Both the ‘ecstasy of fire’ and the ‘fire of grief’ blaze and rampage in well-chosen poems from each of Hirsch’s seven previous collections as he revisits scenes from his childhood and a broken marriage, and evokes with radiant insight dawn and dusk, desire and loss, and the endless struggle between the body and the mind. And Hirsch’s brilliant, deeply pleasurable new poems create an arresting conflagration of scorching sorrow and sweetness, mischievous wit and retribution.”
– Donna Seaman, Booklist
“Hirsch has many wise things to say; [The Living Fire] is a trove of them.”
— Publishers Weekly (starred review)