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Recorded for Poem-a-Day, January 20, 2017.
About this Poem 

“This poem was written well before today's Presidential Inauguration and without this event in mind. But it seems a day worth remembering the fate of our shared planet and all its beings, human and beyond.”
—Jane Hirshfield

Let Them Not Say

Let them not say:   we did not see it.
We saw.

Let them not say:   we did not hear it.
We heard.

Let them not say:     they did not taste it.
We ate, we trembled.

Let them not say:   it was not spoken, not written.
We spoke,
we witnessed with voices and hands.

Let them not say:     they did nothing.
We did not-enough.

Let them say, as they must say something: 

A kerosene beauty.
It burned.

Let them say we warmed ourselves by it,
read by its light, praised,
and it burned.

Copyright © 2017 by Jane Hirshfield. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on January 20, 2017, by the Academy of American Poets.

Copyright © 2017 by Jane Hirshfield. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on January 20, 2017, by the Academy of American Poets.

Jane Hirshfield

Jane Hirshfield

Jane Hirshfield is the author of eight collections of poetry, includingThe Beauty: Poems (Alfred A. Knopf, 2015), which was long listed for the National Book Award. She currently serves as a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets.

by this poet

poem

A person protests to fate:

“The things you have caused
me most to want
are those that furthest elude me.”

Fate nods.
Fate is sympathetic.

To tie the shoes, button a shirt,
are triumphs
for only the very young,
the very old.

During the long middle:

poem

The woman, the tiger, the door, the man, the choice.

Riddles are soulless.
In them, it is never raining.

2
poem
This was once a love poem,
before its haunches thickened, its breath grew short,
before it found itself sitting,
perplexed and a little embarrassed,
on the fender of a parked car,
while many people passed by without turning their heads.

It remembers itself dressing as if for a great engagement.
It remembers