I Rang the Bell

Edward Hirsch

I rang the bellto the pastand the owner let me inso I could climbseven stepsand stand in the doorwayof a narrownessthat was once my roomon the second floorof a split-level houseon the cornerof a suburban developmentin the villageof my adolescenceand time bent me backto that fitful nightwhen I tried to scalethe rusty stairsof a freight train rollingout of control in the yardso I could set the brakesand stop the runawaydead in his tracksbut insteadI pulled a bookcasedown on my bodyand woke upstartledto find my parentsfrightened in the hallwayand my books—or was it my future?—scattered on the floor.

Feature Date


Selected By

Share This Poem

Print This Poem

Michael Lionstar

Edward Hirsch’s tenth book of poems, Stranger by Night, was published by Knopf in 2020.

He is a celebrated poet and peerless advocate for poetry. He was born in Chicago in 1950—his accent makes it impossible for him to hide his origins—and educated at Grinnell College and the University of Pennsylvania, where he received a Ph.D. in Folklore. His devotion to poetry is lifelong.

He has received numerous awards and fellowships, including a MacArthur Fellowship, a Guggenheim Fellowship, an Ingram Merrill Foundation Award, a Pablo Neruda Presidential Medal of Honor, the Prix de Rome, and an Academy of Arts and Letters Award. In 2008, he was elected a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets.

Summer 2019

Amherst, Massachusetts

University of Massachusetts

Executive Editor
Jim Hicks

Poetry Editors
Franny Choi
Nathan McClain

Poetry-in-Translation Editor
Maria José Giménez

Founded in 1959 by a group of professors from the University of Massachusetts Amherst, Amherst College, Mount Holyoke, and Smith, The Massachusetts Review is one of the nation’s leading literary magazines, distinctive in joining the highest level of artistic concern with pressing public issues. As The New York Times observed, “It is amazing that so much significant writing on race and culture appears in one magazine.” MR was named one of the top ten literary journals in 2008 by the Boston Globe.

A 200-page quarterly of fiction, poetry, essays, and the visual arts by both emerging talents and established authors, including Pulitzer and Nobel prizewinners, special issues have covered women’s rights, civil rights, and Caribbean, Canadian, and Latin American literatures.

Poetry Daily Depends on You

With your support, we make reading the best contemporary poetry a treasured daily experience. Consider a contribution today.