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Women in Praise of the Sacred: 43 Centuries of Spiritual Poetry by Women

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"Hirshfield's current collection brings together . . . an astonishing array of women writers from the 22nd century BC poet Enheduanna to Nelly Sachs and Anna Akhmatova."--Library Journal "Hirshfield's current collection brings together . . . an astonishing array of women writers from the 22nd century BC poet Enheduanna to Nelly Sachs and Anna Akhmatova."--Library Journal


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"Hirshfield's current collection brings together . . . an astonishing array of women writers from the 22nd century BC poet Enheduanna to Nelly Sachs and Anna Akhmatova."--Library Journal "Hirshfield's current collection brings together . . . an astonishing array of women writers from the 22nd century BC poet Enheduanna to Nelly Sachs and Anna Akhmatova."--Library Journal

30 review for Women in Praise of the Sacred: 43 Centuries of Spiritual Poetry by Women

  1. 5 out of 5

    Hope Struck

    i checked this out from the library. next, i will buy it. then, i will roll around on top of this book and rub it all over my face. i will shower in this book for the rest of my stinkin life. that's how much i love this book. fyi. i checked this out from the library. next, i will buy it. then, i will roll around on top of this book and rub it all over my face. i will shower in this book for the rest of my stinkin life. that's how much i love this book. fyi.

  2. 4 out of 5

    AnandaTashie

    A combination of spiritual poetry and history of the poets. Really expansive, beautiful, informative collection. My favorites were: p 21, Zi Ye All night I could not sleep / because of the moonlight on my bed. / I kept on hearing a voice calling: / Out of Nowhere, Nothing answered "yes." p 31, Gnostic Gospel - Nag Hammadi Library I am the incomprehensible silence / and the memory that will not be forgotten. / I am the voice whose sound is everywhere / and the speech that appears in many forms. / I a A combination of spiritual poetry and history of the poets. Really expansive, beautiful, informative collection. My favorites were: p 21, Zi Ye All night I could not sleep / because of the moonlight on my bed. / I kept on hearing a voice calling: / Out of Nowhere, Nothing answered "yes." p 31, Gnostic Gospel - Nag Hammadi Library I am the incomprehensible silence / and the memory that will not be forgotten. / I am the voice whose sound is everywhere / and the speech that appears in many forms. / I am the utterance of my own name. (...) I am the one you have scattered, / and you have gathered me together. p 58, Izumi Shikibu I cannot say / which is which: / the glowing / plum blossom is / the spring night's moon. p 97, Marguerite Porete (? - 1310) (I want to see if I can find more about her; the biography glimpse caught my interest. Wrote Mirror of Simple Souls.) p 100, Hadewijch Antwerp In the beginning Love satisfies us. / When Love first spoke to me of love - / How I laughed at her in return! / But then she made me like the hazel trees, / Which blossom early in the season of darkness, / And bear fruit slowly. p 106, Hadewijch II All things / are too small / to hold me, / I am so vast p 133, Mirabai Love has stained my body / to the color of the One Who Holds Up Mountains. p 143, Teresa of Avila (1515-1582) (Want to see if I can find more about her too. Though deemed a saint, she was also known for her humanness and sense of humor.) p 158, Sor Huana Ines de la Cruz Since today the Child / leaves heaven for earth / and finds nowhere to rest / his head in this world, / who will come to his aid? / Water! / Fire! / Air! / No, but Earth will! p 169, Bibi Hayati Is this scorching a lightning bolt's remnants, or the burning / mountain? / The heat of my sighs, or your inner body? p 172, Emily Dickinson Who has not found the Heaven - below - / Will fail of it above - / For Angels rent the House next ours, / Wherever we remove - p 181, Wild Nights - Wild Nights! / Were I with thee / Wild Nights should be / Our luxury! p, 192, Christina Georgina Rossetti Tread softly! all earth is holy ground. p 198, Osage Woman's Initiation Song I have made a footprint, a sacred one. / I have made a footprint, through it the blades push upward. / (...) I have made a footprint, I live in the light of day. p 209, Anna Akhmatova Sunset in the ethereal waves: / I cannot tell if the day / is ending, or the world, or if / the secret of secrets is inside me again. p 213, Gabriela Mistral Scatter it in a song, / or in one great love's desire. p 226, Edith Sodergran On foot / I had to walk through the solar systems, / before I found the first thread of my red dress. / Already, I sense myself. / Somewhere in space hangs my heart, / sparks fly from it, shaking the air, / to other reckless hearts. p 230, Now I shall drink wisdom from the spruce's sap-filled crowns, / now I shall drink truth from the withered trunks of the birches, / now I shall drink power from the smallest and tenderest grasses: / a mighty protector mercifully reaches me his hand. p 232, Marina Tsvetaeva The wind is level now, the earth is wet with dew, / the storm of stars in the sky will turn to quiet. / And soon all of us will sleep under the earth, we / who never let each other sleep above it.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Nina

    What I loved most about this book is that it is about women who experience spirituality and express it in their poetry. This is not a collection of Christian ideas, although they play an important role in it too. Instead, there are many poems from pre-Christian times, just as from other religions and eras. The common theme, according to the title, is the 'praise of the sacred'. I was not always sure about the meaning of 'sacred', and would have rather preferred 'spirituality', but this isjust a What I loved most about this book is that it is about women who experience spirituality and express it in their poetry. This is not a collection of Christian ideas, although they play an important role in it too. Instead, there are many poems from pre-Christian times, just as from other religions and eras. The common theme, according to the title, is the 'praise of the sacred'. I was not always sure about the meaning of 'sacred', and would have rather preferred 'spirituality', but this isjust a matter of personal preference and does not subtract any from the wonderful read. The book is definitely awesome when you are interested in women's voices, a huge variety of poetry with one common theme. I loved the beauty of the poems and often enough found them rather universal in their meanings and they absolutely touched me.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Gudrun Mouw

    I enjoyed the broad historical spectrum of poetry by women. My favorite poet in the book was Anna Akhmatova. I'm still thinking of the last 3 lines of a poem written 2 years before her death: I cannot tell if the day Is ending, or the world, or if The secret of secrets is inside me again. Some of the other work seemed a bit uneven to me. I enjoyed the broad historical spectrum of poetry by women. My favorite poet in the book was Anna Akhmatova. I'm still thinking of the last 3 lines of a poem written 2 years before her death: I cannot tell if the day Is ending, or the world, or if The secret of secrets is inside me again. Some of the other work seemed a bit uneven to me.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Carrie

    Such a breadth of cultures and time and yet some things never change, as Sumangalamata made very clear in her poem that reads, "At last free, at last I am a woman free! No more tied to the kitchen, stained amid the stained pots, no more bound to the husband who thought me less than the shade he wove with his hands. No more anger, no more hunger, I sit now in the shade of my own tree. Meditating thus, I am happy, I am serene." (6th century B.C.E.) :) I also loved Edith Sodergran's "Homecoming"- it Such a breadth of cultures and time and yet some things never change, as Sumangalamata made very clear in her poem that reads, "At last free, at last I am a woman free! No more tied to the kitchen, stained amid the stained pots, no more bound to the husband who thought me less than the shade he wove with his hands. No more anger, no more hunger, I sit now in the shade of my own tree. Meditating thus, I am happy, I am serene." (6th century B.C.E.) :) I also loved Edith Sodergran's "Homecoming"- it captured exactly how I feel in returning to certain spots.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Gina Herald

    "I was passionate filled with longing, I searched far and wide. But the day that the Truthful One found me, I was at home." -Lal Ded l view this work as women coming home to themselves, and their gifts. I can only hope for so much in this alienating and deeply confused time to be alive. This is a wonderful guidebook to return to for that purpose. This celebrates turbulence, cycles, gentleness, shameless exuberance, empathy, and many of the human traits that are culturally notated as feminine. Whether "I was passionate filled with longing, I searched far and wide. But the day that the Truthful One found me, I was at home." -Lal Ded l view this work as women coming home to themselves, and their gifts. I can only hope for so much in this alienating and deeply confused time to be alive. This is a wonderful guidebook to return to for that purpose. This celebrates turbulence, cycles, gentleness, shameless exuberance, empathy, and many of the human traits that are culturally notated as feminine. Whether or not they are, all things referenced as the feminine are celebrated in a way that it has literally become taboo and uncomfortable to celebrate anymore, though they are in finality human qualities. I think that's a good challenge for anybody.

  7. 4 out of 5

    ninamo

    I want to buy 6000 copies of this book and pass it on to family, friends, colleagues, and strangers.

  8. 5 out of 5

    John Evans

    I discovered a passion for poetry upon reading "Women in Praise of the Sacred: 43 Centuries of Spiritual Poetry by Women". The depth and substance of each poem phenomenal, sacred, and embraced by esoteric value and richness. I also enjoyed discovering ancient, as well as modern female voices who speak (or write), about the mysteries of life, especially that of the soul. One of my favorites was by Lal Ded (Lalla), 14th c. perhaps, p. 120, "I was passionate / filled with longing / I searched / far I discovered a passion for poetry upon reading "Women in Praise of the Sacred: 43 Centuries of Spiritual Poetry by Women". The depth and substance of each poem phenomenal, sacred, and embraced by esoteric value and richness. I also enjoyed discovering ancient, as well as modern female voices who speak (or write), about the mysteries of life, especially that of the soul. One of my favorites was by Lal Ded (Lalla), 14th c. perhaps, p. 120, "I was passionate / filled with longing / I searched / far and wide. / But the day / that the Truthful One / found me, / I was at home." This poem spoke volumes referencing the beauty of not only Truth, but the Divine Who resides from within. Beautiful! Exquisite! Phenomenal! Each poem allowed me to become new again, a new creature, within each moment. I began to not only learn of life, but live life upon reading this very well researched anthology.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Glenn Berger

    Among many wonderful poems is this one by Pan Zhao (48-117?), the most famous woman scholar of Chinese history, on the slow, incremental process of restoring one's connection to our essential nature, on finding the lost heart. Tempered, annealed, the hard essence of autumn metals finely forged, subtle, yet perdurable and straight, By nature penetrating deep yet advancing by inches to span all things yet stitch them up together, Only needle-and-thread's delicate footsteps are truly broad-ranging yet wi Among many wonderful poems is this one by Pan Zhao (48-117?), the most famous woman scholar of Chinese history, on the slow, incremental process of restoring one's connection to our essential nature, on finding the lost heart. Tempered, annealed, the hard essence of autumn metals finely forged, subtle, yet perdurable and straight, By nature penetrating deep yet advancing by inches to span all things yet stitch them up together, Only needle-and-thread's delicate footsteps are truly broad-ranging yet without beginning! "Withdrawing elegantly" to mend a loose-thread, and restore to white silk a lamb's down purity. . . How can those who count pennies calculate their worth? They may carve monuments yet lack all understanding.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Ivan Granger

    This is the first anthology I got years ago that made me say, Wow! Includes Sappho, Rabia, Yeshe Tsogyel, Hildegard von Bingen, Mechthild of Magdeburg, Hadewijch of Antwerp, Lalla, Mirabai, Bibi Hayati, Marina Tsvetaeva. The best collection I’ve found of women’s voices in sacred poetry.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Lanette Sweeney

    This is a beautiful collection of women's poetry about the holy and the sacred, beginning with Queen Makeda in ancient Ethiopia, who adopted the one-god philosophy and helped establish the line of Israelites there after losing her virginity to King Solomon. Each poet's work is preceded by a brief biography of the woman, her influences and possible interpretations of her meaning. Reading Hirshfield's artful descriptions of these extraordinary women and her explications of their (often previously This is a beautiful collection of women's poetry about the holy and the sacred, beginning with Queen Makeda in ancient Ethiopia, who adopted the one-god philosophy and helped establish the line of Israelites there after losing her virginity to King Solomon. Each poet's work is preceded by a brief biography of the woman, her influences and possible interpretations of her meaning. Reading Hirshfield's artful descriptions of these extraordinary women and her explications of their (often previously unknown) poems is often as moving as reading the poems themselves,; each one greatly illuminates our understanding of the poetry and where these women fit in the alternate histories we may have been told. This is an excellent addition to our canon of women's work through the centuries and is probably not meant to be read straight through but rather dipped in for fortification at your leisure. This is a book to own and I'm glad to have it on my shelves.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Mandy

    I enjoyed reading selections from women throughout history who have been so inspired by the divine. Each one contains some history about the woman herself and some of her poetry or writings. Having been brought up in a fairly straightforward Christian church, it's really helpful for me to see examples of how women throughout time have directly experienced and expressed their interpretation of divinity and love, dating from the earliest written records of our human history to more recent works. I I enjoyed reading selections from women throughout history who have been so inspired by the divine. Each one contains some history about the woman herself and some of her poetry or writings. Having been brought up in a fairly straightforward Christian church, it's really helpful for me to see examples of how women throughout time have directly experienced and expressed their interpretation of divinity and love, dating from the earliest written records of our human history to more recent works. I recently lent my copy to a friend but am looking forward to buying another just so ensure I have this as a reference for my own life and coaching.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Christina Isobel

    What an extraordinary book edited by Jane Hirshfield with many poems translated by her. The subtitle is "43 Centuries of Spiritual Poetry by Women." 43 centuries! And poems from women all over the world. A perfect book for these times. Many of these women have had very difficult lives or lived in times as difficult or more difficult than ours right now. They have gone inward and often outward to find their deep voices and the voices coming from a woman's perspective. I have gained much solace an What an extraordinary book edited by Jane Hirshfield with many poems translated by her. The subtitle is "43 Centuries of Spiritual Poetry by Women." 43 centuries! And poems from women all over the world. A perfect book for these times. Many of these women have had very difficult lives or lived in times as difficult or more difficult than ours right now. They have gone inward and often outward to find their deep voices and the voices coming from a woman's perspective. I have gained much solace and joy from this book. I have much gratitude to Hirshfield for creating this book.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Carrie

    Much of the poetry I’ve been reading lately is a hard intellectual chew. This volume is spacious and inspiring, humble, doesn’t work too hard. Jane Hirshfield brings together women from diverse pools of spiritual thought. Some were personally strengthening for me, and others just made me give pause. (One I even ripped out!) Hirshfield makes it easy to go deep—a great introduction to many underrepresented poets.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Mallory Everhart

    "What the soul does for the body, the poet does for her people." - Gabriela Mistral Immense gratitude to Jane Hirschfield for compiling, editing, and contextualizing this deeply sacred volume of women's spiritual poetry. She includes a wide variety of women hailing from around the world and works to set them in their own particularity while also drawing interesting comparisons in topic and theme among them. Profoundly illuminating. "What the soul does for the body, the poet does for her people." - Gabriela Mistral Immense gratitude to Jane Hirschfield for compiling, editing, and contextualizing this deeply sacred volume of women's spiritual poetry. She includes a wide variety of women hailing from around the world and works to set them in their own particularity while also drawing interesting comparisons in topic and theme among them. Profoundly illuminating.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Yvonne Flint

    From earliest written records and encompassing many cultures, these deep, wise women spoke my heart.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Phyllis Fredericksen

    A compilation of poetry written by women over the centuries. A brief summary of each author’s life preceded her poetry. Very well done. I used this as a meditation each day and enjoyed it.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Eileen

    © 1994. Includes a mini biography of each author. These poems were inspiring, gripping, glorious, sublime, some causing tears, others lifting the heart. A real treasure.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Fred Dameron

    Wonderful collection of women's poetry. Wonderful collection of women's poetry.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Braeden

    What a wonderful collection of poems!

  21. 5 out of 5

    Lubna Ferdousy

    Filled in my head and my heart. Will surely come back to it from time to time.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Catherine Corman

    On this summer night All the household lies asleep, And in the doorway, For once open after dark, Stands the moon, brilliant, cloudless. -Jusammi Chikako, in Women in Praise of the Sacred

  23. 4 out of 5

    Helen

    A stunning collections of centuries of women's poetry complete with biographies. I've been savoring a poem a day for years. Beautiful and inspiring. A stunning collections of centuries of women's poetry complete with biographies. I've been savoring a poem a day for years. Beautiful and inspiring.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Kelsey

    I appreciate this book for its historical significance, but I'm not intellectual enough for poetry. So it is not the book that's bad, it is me who is a bad reader I suppose. It is also fair to say the women who wrote the poetry within the book are BA. It is a great book for history buffs, poetry lovers, and awesome feminist humans. I appreciate this book for its historical significance, but I'm not intellectual enough for poetry. So it is not the book that's bad, it is me who is a bad reader I suppose. It is also fair to say the women who wrote the poetry within the book are BA. It is a great book for history buffs, poetry lovers, and awesome feminist humans.

  25. 5 out of 5

    May FLower

    I really loved this. It collects women's poetry about the sacred aspect of life from a range of backgrounds, time periods and religious practices. Lots of good stuff and I found a bunch of women I want to read more about. I really loved this. It collects women's poetry about the sacred aspect of life from a range of backgrounds, time periods and religious practices. Lots of good stuff and I found a bunch of women I want to read more about.

  26. 5 out of 5

    J. Robin Whitley

    This book is filled with women poets that are known and unknown through the ages. The book too me a long time to read because some of the poems so beautiful I had to stop reading to allow the poem to linger in my mind, simmer in my heart.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Jeffrey

    Hirshfield offers a well-rounded sampling of women from numerous traditions and times - each of whom write with a sensibility toward God, the Beloved, or that which is sacred (even a boy who commits suicide). Her brief bios are enough to tempt you to read more.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Tom Helmick

    Had I only been introduced to the poetry of Nelly Sachs, that would have been more than enough. She really touched me. As it was, I was also treated to 43 centuries of spiritual poetry written by women. This was an impressive and inspirited read.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Katrina

    This collection of poetry is transporting. It's chronological span alone recommends it, but the variety and beauty of the selections seals this as one to read and enjoy. I borrowed it from the library and recommend you do likewise. This collection of poetry is transporting. It's chronological span alone recommends it, but the variety and beauty of the selections seals this as one to read and enjoy. I borrowed it from the library and recommend you do likewise.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Melissa McClintock

    Awesome compliation of female poets throughout the ages.

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