Jane Hirshfield on her poem ‘Mathematics’

Poet Jane Hirshfield was born in New York City in 1953. She was in the first graduating class at Princeton University to include women. She went on to study at the San Francisco Zen Center. Her many books include “After,” “Given Sugar, Given Salt” and “The Lives of the Heart.”

Gene: In your poem “Mathematics” you ask, “Does the poem enlarge the world, or only your idea of the world?” Would you expand on that?

Jane: That was an actual question, which was asked of me in a question and answer session… It struck me as one of the most interesting things that anybody has ever said to me. So it became the seed of this poem in which I answer how can you tell them apart… Is there a knowable world besides the world we know? How could you separate that within our consciousness? I could say yes or no to either. I could say yes of course a poem enlarges the world. But then somebody could say which world? It’s truly metaphysical.

About genemyers

Gene Myers is a New Jersey poet, music journalist and columnist who learned to walk twice. His weekly column is called The Joy of Life. He was awarded first place in Arts and Entertainment Writing by The New Jersey Press Association.
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