Jane Hirshfield

Modern consciousness no longer conceives of a noble cause that is not haunted, nor of a beauty that is not also terrifying. We have learned that every gift carries its price. Everywhere we look, the theme appears: wisdom, at least in the west, is obtained through transgression and paid for in suffering. The journey into maturity, whether seen in Odysseus or Aeneas or the joined figures of Persephone and Demeter, must pass through the underworld realms of uncertainty, fear, and death, before the green and peaceful life the hero longs for can be restored—and both world and self are irrevocably changed by that immersion.