Friday, May 2, 2008

Today's poem - Old Roses by Donald Hall

There is a tremendous piece about Donald Hall here, with many photographs of him, and his home. Tom's mom sent us the print issue, and I was so pleased to find it online to share it with you. After his time as Poet Laureate, he says:

I come back to this house, in which I have felt so much emptiness since her death [his wife, poet Jane Kenyon who died in 1995], and because I can't work, I find myself with nothing to do. For so many years I was writing poems about Jane. I've become more and more naked as a poet, particularly after Jane's death. Then I came to the end of that. Something had changed, and language doesn't come to me anymore.

Here is a poem from a 1978 collection called Kicking The Leaves.

Old Roses

White roses, tiny and old, hover among thorns
by the barn door.
For a hundred years
under the June elm, under the gaze
of seven generations,
they floated briefly,
like this, in the moment of roses,
by the fields
stout with corn, or with clover and timothy
making sweet hay,
grown over, now,
with milkweed, sumac, paintbrush....
roses survive
winter drifts, the melt in April, August
and men and women
who sniffed roses in spring and called them pretty
as we call them now,
strolling beside the barn
on a day that perishes....


  1. Reading one of his books concerning their lives just a month or so ago, very hard to read in parts because of how true he is. I have found his honesty about himself and his life with JK and after her death just profoundly human and brave.

  2. Very interesting article with great photography. I met Donald at the Innisfree Bookshop in Meredith during July 1998 at a book signing. I purchased a copy of "Without", having him sign it for me.

  3. What a marvelous article, and a favorite poem of Hall's. I have to think, mustn't he be so glad that he agreed to go to New Hampshire, where she wanted to go? So much would have been different, if he'd refused.

    1. That house and the land are all of a piece with who he is. It's a beautiful place.


I'll answer your comments as soon as I possibly can. Please do come back if you've asked a question.
Also, you may comment on any post, no matter how old, and I will see it.