Introduction & Overview of Three Times My Life Has Opened by Jane Hirshfield

Jane Hirshfield
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Three Times My Life Has Opened Summary & Study Guide Description

Three Times My Life Has Opened Summary & Study Guide includes comprehensive information and analysis to help you understand the book. This study guide contains the following sections:

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Jane Hirshfield opted to place "Three Times My Life Has Opened" as the last poem in her 1997 collection called The Lives of the Heart, and it makes for an appropriate and intriguing closing thought. This poem is rich in metaphor and mystery, and one line probably epitomizes the latter better than any other: "You will recognize what I am saying or you will not." This is the essence of a poem that is presented with an elegant tone, a simple style, and a caring voice that seems to assure the reader that one does not necessarily need to grasp every meaning within it to be moved by it. Instead, the overall gist of this work is most easily comprehended by getting a feel for its content without worrying about deciphering a certain message.

The word "Zen" is not mentioned in "Three Times My Life Has Opened," nor is "koan" (an unsolvable, thought-provoking riddle), "zazen," (the act of serious meditating), or "satori" (the attainment of spiritual enlightenment and true peace of mind). Yet the presence of these things can be felt within the poem, even though the words themselves are absent. To explain, then, what this poem is about is first to recognize the mystery to which few may be privy and to view it more as a whole than as the sum of its parts. The parts, after all, tend to elude specific definition or reference, but the work in its entirety reflects a philosophy in which ultimate achievement is more about connecting the inner-self to the natural world than to espousing intellectual rhetoric or theory. In short, this poem addresses a spiritual awakening, metaphorically compared to the movement of autumn through winter and into spring.

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This section contains 287 words
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Poetry for Students
Three Times My Life Has Opened from Poetry for Students. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.