Affirmation by Donald Hall
MARGINALIA • SKIP TO THE POEM
Here is a poem about mortality—Donald Hall often expressed that dying gets in the way of living. When his wife, the poet Jane Kenyon, passed away, the devastation was palpable in his poems. But over time his work became a reckoning with death, and how it is an important part of life.
[expand title=”Endnotes” tag=”h6″ expanded=”true”] This poem appeared in The Painted Bed by Donald Hall, published by Ecco, 2003. Shared here with profound gratitude. Read more works by Donald Hall • Find books by this poet • Or view my library Explore poems in pursuit of: memory • growing old • letting go • Or browse the index [/expand] [expand title=”Dear Reader” tag=”h6″] This little corner of the world is my passion project since 2005. My commitment is that it will always remain free to all. If this place holds meaning for you, would you consider supporting it? This can be in the form of a cup of coffee (+ other ways). Note that Read A Little Poetry may receive a small commission if you make a purchase through any links on this site. It is at no additional cost to you and helps in the upkeep of this space. Thank you for being here all these years—and into the future—as I hold poets to the light. [/expand] [expand title=”Pin This” tag=”h6″] [/expand] —
Affirmation Donald HallTo 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..