The Painted Bed: Poems

by Donald Hall

Donald Hall's fourteenth collection opens with an epigraph from the Urdu poet Faiz: "The true subject of poetry is the loss of the beloved." In that poetic tradition, as in THE PAINTED BED, the beloved might be a person or something else - life itself, or the disappearing countryside. Hall's new poems further the themes of love, death, and mourning so powerfully introduced in his WITHOUT (1998), but from the distance of passed time. A long poem, "Daylilies on the Hill 1975 - 1989," moves back to the happy repossession of the poet's old family house and its history - a structure that "persisted against assaults" as its generations of residents could not. These poems are by turns furious and resigned, spirited and despairing - "mania is melancholy reversed," as Hall writes in another long poem, "Kill the Day." In this book's fourth and final section, "Ardor," the poet moves toward acceptance of new life in old age; eros reemerges.

  • Format: Paperback
  • ISBN-13/ EAN: 9780618340750
  • ISBN-10: 0618340750
  • Pages: 112
  • Publication Date: 05/07/2003
  • Carton Quantity: 42

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About the Book
About the Author
Excerpts
Reviews
  • About the Book
    Donald Hall's fourteenth collection opens with an epigraph from the Urdu poet Faiz: "The true subject of poetry is the loss of the beloved." In that poetic tradition, as in THE PAINTED BED, the beloved might be a person or something else - life itself, or the disappearing countryside. Hall's new poems further the themes of love, death, and mourning so powerfully introduced in his WITHOUT (1998), but from the distance of passed time. A long poem, "Daylilies on the Hill 1975 - 1989," moves back to the happy repossession of the poet's old family house and its history - a structure that "persisted against assaults" as its generations of residents could not. These poems are by turns furious and resigned, spirited and despairing - "mania is melancholy reversed," as Hall writes in another long poem, "Kill the Day." In this book's fourth and final section, "Ardor," the poet moves toward acceptance of new life in old age; eros reemerges.

    Subjects

  • About the Author
  • Excerpts
    Her Garden

    I let her garden go.

    let it go, let it go How can I watch the hummingbird Hover to sip With its beak’s tip The purple bee balm—whirring as we heard It years ago?

    The weeds rise rank and thick let it go, let it go Where annuals grew and burdock grows, Where standing she At once could see The peony, the lily, and the rose Rise over brick

    She’d laid in patterns. Moss let it go, let it go Turns the bricks green, softening them By the gray rocks Where hollyhocks That lofted while she lived, stem by tall stem, Dwindle in loss.

    Affirmation

    To grow old is to lose everything.

    Aging, everybody knows it.

    Even when we are young, we glimpse it sometimes, and nod our heads when a grandfather dies.

    Then we row for years on the midsummer pond, ignorant and content. But a marriage, that began without harm, scatters into debris on the shore, and a friend from school drops cold on a rocky strand.

    If a new love carries us past middle age, our wife will die at her strongest and most beautiful.

    New women come and go. All go.

    The pretty lover who announces that she is temporary is temporary. The bold woman, middle-aged against our old age, sinks under an anxiety she cannot withstand.

    Another friend of decades estranges himself in words that pollute thirty years.

    Let us stifle under mud at the pond’s edge and affirm that it is fitting and delicious to lose everything.

    Copyright © 2002 by Donald Hall. Reprinted by permission of Houghton Mifflin Company.

  • Reviews
    "A compelling, sometimes shocking, and certainly deeply moving depiction of bereavement." --Sally Connolly, POETRY

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