His illustrations ran for so many years in the New Yorker magazine that one might have assumed it was the magazine’s own style. Here’s a link to some of Hirschfeld’s Best.
“Hirschfeld folded,” teleprompter
ran the scripted newsman
stumbled on, still staining
fingers in the ink,
drama with the lines he drew
alive until he wasn’t, squeezing
just a couple more from this
bold new century’s turn
like one who didn’t have the sense
to be defeated, ninety-nine still
working at a trade one
might call quaint.
If he was happy in the two
miserable in three or more
just passing ‘til he passed, one
needs knowing ‘bout the subject.
Praise his passion, lines so long
they coiled upon themselves
expressive, his root yearnings
like the painted clown.
He captured bucketsful of characters
some falling off the edges,
like Bottom for the pit
others crowning rafters.
Waking in old age at dawn
arthritis and the birds of hope
scuffling to a workplace
shelving alcove more than room,
a space for his quick pen
to play upon the page when
not upon a central point: like
Charlie’s dog we dance
or else we fade. Whenever did
cartooning seem the grander?
A man who’d hang there for New York
did see something in the fashion mags
not Edward Munch – obsessive colorist
Hirschfeld plied a lesser lunacy
and are there books I should be
reading, lines yet to be drawn?
Al Hirschfeld, January 20, 2003