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Christmas at Eagle Pondby Donald Hall
Synopses & Reviews
Donald Hall's celebrated book of poems Without was written for his wife, Jane Kenyon, who died in 1995. Hall returns to this powerful territory in The Best Day the Worst Day, a work of prose that is equally "a work of art, love, and generous genius" (Liz Rosenberg, Boston Globe).
Jane Kenyon was nineteen years younger than Donald Hall and a student poet at the University of Michigan when they met. Hall was her teacher. The Best Day the Worst Day is an intimate account of their twenty-three-year marriage, nearly all of it spent in New Hampshire at Eagle Pond Farm — of their shared rituals of writing, close attention to pets and gardening, and love in the afternoon. Hall joyfully records Jane's growing power as a poet and the couple's careful accommodations toward each other as writers. This portrait of the inner moods of "the best marriage I know about," as Hall has written, is laid against the stark medical emergency of Jane's leukemia, which ended her life in fifteen months. Hall shares with readers — as if we were one of the grieving neighbors, friends, and relatives — the daily ordeal of Jane's dying, through heartbreaking and generous storytelling.
The Best Day the Worst Day stands alongside Elegy to Iris as a powerful testimony to both loss and love.
Former Poet Laureate Donald Halland#160;draws fromand#160;his ownand#160;childhood memories in this moving and masterful storyand#160;to give himself the thing he most wanted but didn't get asand#160;a boy: a Christmas at Eagle Pond.
A candid memoir of love, art, and grief from a celebrated man of letters, United States poet laureate Donald Hall
In an intimate record of his twenty-three-year marriage to poet Jane Kenyon, Donald Hall recounts the rich pleasures and the unforeseen trials of their shared life. The couple made a home at their New England farmhouse, where they rejoiced in rituals of writing, gardening, caring for pets, and connecting with their rural community through friends and church. The Best Day the Worst Day presents a portrait of the inner moods of "the best marriage I know about," as Hall has written, against the stark medical emergency of Jane's leukemia, which ended her life in fifteen months. Between recollections of better times, Hall shares with readers the daily ordeal of Jane's dying through heartbreaking but ultimately inspiring storytelling.
Throughout his writing life Donald Hall has garnered numerous accolades and honors, culminating in 2006 with his appointment as poet laureate of the United States. White Apples and the Taste of Stone collects more than two hundred poems from across sixty years of Halls celebrated career, and includes poems recently published in The New Yorker, the American Poetry Review, and the New York Times. It is Halls first selected volume in fifteen years, and the first to include poems from his seminal bestseller Without. Those who have come to love Donald Hall's poetry will welcome this vital and important addition to his body of work. For the uninitiated it is a spectacular introduction to this critically acclaimed and admired poet.
The first, full-length volume of poems in a decade by former poet laureate of the United States Donald Hall
Donald Halls remarkable life in poetry — a career capped by his appointment as U.S. poet laureate in 2006 — comes alive in this richly detailed, self-revealing memoir.
Halls invaluable record of the making of a poet begins with his childhood in Depression-era suburban Connecticut, where he first realized poetry was secret, dangerous, wicked, and delicious,” and ends with what he calls the planet of antiquity,” a time of life dramatically punctuated by his appointment as poet laureate of the United States.
Hall writes eloquently of the poetry and books that moved and formed him as a child and young man, and of adolescent efforts at poetry writing — an endeavor he wryly describes as more hormonal than artistic. His painful formative days at Exeter, where he was sent like a naive lamb to a high WASP academic slaughter, are followed by a poetic self-liberation of sorts at Harvard. Here he rubs elbows with Frank OHara, John Ashbery, and Edward Gorey, and begins lifelong friendships with Robert Bly, Adrienne Rich, and George Plimpton. After Harvard, Hall is off to Oxford, where the high spirits and rampant poetry careerism of the postwar university scene are brilliantly captured.
At eighty, Hall is as painstakingly honest about his failures and low points as a poet, writer, lover, and father as he is about his successes, making Unpacking the Boxes — his first book since being named poet laureate — both revelatory and tremendously poignant.
This original paperback brings together for the first time all of Donald Halland#8217;s writing on Eagle Pond Farm, his ancestral home in New Hampshire, where he visited his grandparents as a young boy and then lived with his wife, the poet Jane Kenyon, until her death. It includes the entire, previously published Seasons at Eagle Pond and Here at Eagle Pond; the poem and#147;Daylilies on the Hilland#8221; from The Painted Bed; and several uncollected pieces. In these tender essays, Hall tells of the joys and quiddities of life on the farm, the pleasures and discomforts of a world in which the year has four seasons — maple sugar, blackfly, Red Sox, and winter. Lyrical, comic, and elegaic, they sing of a landscape and culture that are disappearing under the assault of change.
Donald Hall's poignant and courageous poetry speaks of the death of the magnificent, humorous, and gifted Jane Kenyon. Hall speaks to us all of grief, as a poet lamenting the death of a poet, as a husband mourning the loss of a wife. Without is Hall's greatest and most honorable achievement-his gift and testimony, his lament and his celebration of loss and of love.
This volume contains the finest short poetry Donald Hall has written, poems of landscape and love, of dedication and prophecy, poems that have won thousands of readers, as well as various prizes and honors.
For nearly forty years, Donald Hall has stood in the front rank of American poets. The title poem, an autobiographical sequence, takes Hall from his boyhood to his growing acquaintance with poets--seniors like Robert Frost and contemporaries like Robert Bly. It sees him growing into manhood, fatherhood, grandfatherhood, and a happy second marriage. When his life inevitably moves into vicissitude, even tragedy, he will tell the dreadful truth about himself and the challenges of his time on earth.
You might expect the fact of dying--the dying of a beloved wife and fellow poet--to make for a bleak and lonely tale. But Donald Hall's poignant and courageous poetry, facing that dread fact, involves us all: the magnificent, humorous, and gifted woman, Jane Kenyon, who suffered and died; the doctors and nurses who tried but failed to save her; the neighbors, friends, and relatives who grieved for her; the husband who sat by her while she lived and afterward sat in their house alone with his pain, self-pity, and fury; and those of us who till now had nothing to do with it. As Donald Hall writes, "Remembered happiness is agony; so is remembered agony." Without will touch every feeling reader, for everyone has suffered loss and requires the fellowship of elegy. In the earth's oldest poem, when Gilgamesh howls of the death of Enkidu, a grieving reader of our own time may feel a kinship, across the abyss of four thousand years, with a Sumerian king. In Without Donald Hall speaks to us all of grief, as a poet lamenting the death of a poet, as a husband mourning the loss of a wife. Without is Hall's greatest and most honorable achievement — his give and testimony, his lament and his celebration of loss and of love.
About the Author
DONALD HALL, who served as poet laureate of the United States from 2006 to 2007, is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters and a recipient of the National Medal of the Arts.
Caldecott Medalist Mary Azarian is a consummate gardener and a skilled and original woodblock artist. Many of her prints are heavily influenced by her love of gardening, and her turn-of-the-century farmhouse is surrounded by gardens that reveal an artist's vision. Mary Azarian received the 1999 Caldecott Medal for SNOWFLAKE BENTLEY, written by Jacqueline Briggs Martin. She lives, skis, and gardens in Vermont.
Table of Contents
The Things 3
Loves Progress 4
Conclusion at Union Lake 7
Three Women 9
Nymph and Shepherd 11
Bangers and Mash 12
The Week 20
Apples Peaches 23
After the Prom 25
Creative Writing 26
The Pursuit of Poetry 27
ii. Rics Progress
Rics Progress 31
iii. Rocking Chairs Painted Green
The Number 53
Scar Tissue 55
What We Did 62
The Gardener 64
The Offspring 65
Freezes and Junes 66
The Widowers Cowbell 67
Blue Snow 68
The Back Chamber 70
The Bone Ring 73
“Poetry and Ambition” 77
Green Farmhouse Chairs 78
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