The Living Fire by Edward Hirsch
New and Selected Poems

No critic rating

Waiting for minimum critic reviews

See 3 Critic Reviews



A rich and significant collection of more than one hundred poems, drawn from a lifetime of “wild gratitude” in poetry.

In poems chronicling insomnia (“the blue-rimmed edge / of outer dark, those crossroads / where we meet the dead”), art and culture (poems on Edward Hopper and Paul Celan, love poems in the voices of Baudelaire and Gertrude Stein, a meditation on two suitcases of children’s drawings that came out of the Terezin concentration camp), and his own experience, including the powerful, frank self-examinations in his more recent work, Edward Hirsch displays stunning range and quality. Repeatedly confronting the darkness, his own sense of godlessness (“Forgive me, faith, for never having any”), he also struggles with the unlikely presence of the divine, the power of art to redeem human transience, and the complexity of relationships. Throughout the collection, his own life trajectory enriches the poems; he is the “skinny, long-beaked boy / who perched in the branches of the old branch library,” as well as the passionate middle-aged man who tells his lover, “I wish I could paint you— / . . . / I need a brush for your hard angles / and ferocious blues and reds. / . . . / I wish I could paint you / from the waist down.”

Grieving for the losses occasioned by our mortality, Hirsch’s ultimate impulse as a poet is to praise—to wreathe himself, as he writes, in “the living fire” that burns with a ferocious intensity.

About Edward Hirsch

See more books from this Author
Edward Hirsch is a celebrated poet and peerless advocate for poetry. A MacArthur fellow, he has published eight books of poems and four books of prose. He has received numerous awards and fellowships, including a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship, the Rome Prize, a Pablo Neruda Presidential Medal of Honor, and the American Academy of Arts and Letters Award for Literature. He serves as president of the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation and lives in New York City.
Published March 9, 2010 by Knopf. 256 pages
Genres: History, Literature & Fiction. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for The Living Fire

Publishers Weekly

See more reviews from this publication

Hirsch, a longtime poetry teacher and now the president of the Guggenheim Foundation, is an accessible and widely beloved poet and advocate for poetry. His work combines a playful, tender sense of

Jan 25 2010 | Read Full Review of The Living Fire: New and Sele...

The New York Times

See more reviews from this publication

In poems old and new, Edward Hirsch balances the quotidian with an irrational counterforce.

Mar 28 2010 | Read Full Review of The Living Fire: New and Sele...

Bookmarks Magazine

By jonSun, 03/28/2010 - 22:52.

Mar 28 2010 | Read Full Review of The Living Fire: New and Sele...

Reader Rating for The Living Fire

An aggregated and normalized score based on 5 user ratings from iDreamBooks & iTunes

Rate this book!

Add Review