April 4, 2009

Where the snow hangs still

I'm celebrating National Poetry Month by tweeting every day with a few links about a random poet of my choice. I kind of got carried away and tweeted more than normal today and thought I'd cut-n-paste the content here to have them all in one place.

The poet I chose today is Donald Hall, who was the poet laureate of the US couple of years back. And I started with these lines, which resonate with me -- given my family's recent experience with death.
“Dying is simple,” she said.
“What's worst is… the separation.” 
In 8 simple words, Hall has captured here the entire essence of loss and all the feelings that my mother has been experiencing in the 14 months! The lines are from the poem Last Days by Donald Hall. I suggest you read the poem in its entirety (can be read here) and come tell me if you don't tear up! The poem was one of many heart-breaking poems in his 1998 book of poems, Without, in which Hall commemorated the loss of his wife, Jane Kenyon. I remember tearing up repeatedly reading the book in 2002-2003.
“Remembered happiness is agony; so is remembered agony.” - from Without
Seemingly, the same sense of loss and helplessness against the fragility of life percolates through his 2002 book of poems, The Painted Bed, which I have not yet read. I just read a few poems from the book (through Google books) and it promises to wrench my heart and leave me teary again!
"Let us stifle under mud at the pond’s edge and affirm that it is fitting and delicious to lose everything." - from Affirmation, The Painted Bed.

It seems, this wonderful couplet by the Urdu poet, Faiz Ahmed Faiz, serves as an epigraph in The Painted Bed.
"All poetry is about the death of the beloved."
Although I had picked up a book of Kenyon's collected poems last year, I have not read much of her poetry. Seems she also could pack a punch, as evidenced from these lines from her poem: It Might Have Been Otherwise.

I slept in a bed
in a room with paintings
on the walls, and
planned another day
just like this day.
But one day, I know,
it will be otherwise.
I will leave you with these beautiful lines..
Love is like sounds, whose last reverberations
Hang on the leaves of strange trees, on mountains
As distant as the curving of the earth,
Where the snow hangs still in the middle of the air. 
which is from an older poem by Donald Hall, which is included in the recent collection of 50 years of poetry by Hall -  White Apples and the Taste of Stone: Selected Poems 1946-2006.

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At the school dances white and black girls shook on the floor, by Anais Duplan

Today, a poem  by  Anaïs Duplan,  from the Bennington Review. [AT THE SCHOOL DANCES WHITE AND BLACK GIRLS SHOOK ON THE FLOOR.]  ...