Poetry by women seems to polarize me; this is the kind that brings me out in hives. Too late I see Hirshfield has edited an anthology of 43 centuries of spiritual verse. Forty. Three. Centuries. Very aging. I'm afraid 'spiritual' isn't in my lexicon, like God (I call it goddiness); even 'love' is problematic as a hold-all term ('need' would be more honest) - sometimes it's just another form of self-regard (parents who 'love' their children can murder them to prevent them being taken away). I'll try and get a handle on my specific literary gripe later if I can bear to (if Szymborska gets her, what's MY problem?); for now let's say too, um, feminine? In the way that macho male swagger or portentousness (later Eliot?) can also repel..
In evidence I cite p116 (describing 'ALL our anxieties and terrors...as they TRULY are')
'Stumbling, delirious bees in the tea-scent of jasmine'
So that's all right then
Later. OK, the problem is that Hirshfield is of that generation who found form vieux jeu. If you reject it on principle (or aren't interested enough to try it) it's easy to slip into vapidity and grandiloquence - form keeps you grounded; and of course it connects you with your forebears, unlike the tribe of 'free expression' amateurs, who put me in mind of kids let loose with a paintbox when they could be doing creative READING! Of course, what counts as 'form' these days is less clearcut than of yore - I would definitely call Ashbery a formal poet, for instance, and the beats adopted no-form AS form - and I suppose it is debatable how far Hirshfield and her ilk retain a sense of craft (obviously a poem has to retain a 'form' of SOME kind!!) - but those wars are thankfully now over; today American poets are comfortable in any guise (while recognising that it IS a choice) and all the better for it. Vive la diversité!