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Without: Poemsby Donald Hall
Synopses & Reviews
Donald Hall draws on his own childhood memories and gives himself the thing he most wanted but didn't get as a boy: a Christmas at Eagle Pond.
Itandrsquo;s the Christmas season of 1940, and twelve-year-old Donnie takes the train to visit his grandparents' place in rural New Hampshire. Once there, he quickly settles into the farmandrsquo;s routines. In the barn, Gramp milks the cows and entertains his grandson by speaking rhymed pieces, while Donnieandrsquo;s eyes are drawn to an empty stall that houses a graceful, cobwebby sleigh. Now Model A's speed over the wintry roads, which must be plowed, and the beautiful sleigh has become obsolete. When the church pageant is over, the gifts are exchanged, and the remains of the Christmas feast put away, the air becomes heavy with fine snowflakesandmdash;the kind that fall at the start of a big stormandmdash;and everyone wonders, how will Donnie get back to his parents on time?
"Whom Donald Hall is without, of course, is his wife and fellow poet, Jane Kenyon, who died of leukemia after an extended illness. This book recounts of their last months together and Hall's life after her passing. It serves as a moving elegy for her life and work, and it spares none of the pain she and Hall experienced: the illness brought on by treatments, the pain of a bone marrow transplant, the dementia and incontinence. But it is not the horror of the death and dying that remains with the reader after he has finished this book. It is the clear presence of mutual love and two people's persevering in the face of hopeless circumstances. When Hall quotes Kenyon on her death bed saying, ''Dying is simple,' she said, 'What's worst is ...the separation,'' we understand their loss. This is a sad and painful book, but it is buoyed by integrity and enduring emotion." Reviewed by Andrew Witmer, Virginia Quarterly Review (Copyright 2006 Virginia Quarterly Review)
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.
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.
Hall's bestselling collection ever speaks of the death of his wife--his gift and testimony, his lament, and his celebration of loss and love.
About the Author
Donald Hall is the fourteenth poet laureate of the United States and the authorof more than two dozen books of poems and prose, including White Apples and the Taste of Stone: Selected Poems 19462006. His work has garnered many honors, among them the National Book Critics Circle Award and the Los Angeles Times Book Prize in poetry for The One Day; the Lenore Marshall Award for The Happy Man; the Robert Frost Silver Medal from the Poetry Society of America for Old and New Poems; and the prestigious Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize in recognition of his lifetime accomplishments. His poetry collection Without, which was written for Jane Kenyon during and after her illness, received the L. L. Winship/PEN New England Award and was a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize. A member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, Hall continues to inhabit the New Hampshire farmhouse where he and Jane Kenyon lived together.
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