Like many writers, Edward Hirsch has struggled to find inspiration. But that quest has been fruitful more often than not for this celebrated poet. For example, the search for inspiration once led him to write The Demon and the Angel: Searching for the Source of Artistic Inspiration (2002), one of his several volumes of prose. At other times, Hirsch has found inspiration in the work of other writers and artists, as is the case with this poem, "A Partial History of My Stupidity." In response to a poem by Polish writer Czeslaw Milosz, in which the author wrote that the history of his stupidity would fill many volumes, Hirsch said he thought, "I could relate to that." "But it seemed impossible to write all of [it]. I wrote like volume three, chapter five." Throughout his career Hirsch has strived to "speak in my poems with what the Romantic poets called 'the true voice of feeling.'" He is often praised for his mastery, his compassion, and his willingness to take risks. Hirsch has published several collections of poetry including, For the Sleepwalkers (1981), Wild Gratitude (1986), which received the National Book Critics Circle Award, Earthly Measures (1994), and most recently Special Orders (2008). Among his many honors, Hirsch has received a Guggenheim Fellowship and a MacArthur fellowship. He is currently the president of the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation.
To read this and other poems by Edward Hirsch, as well as biographical information about the poet, please visit the Poetry Foundation Web site.