Poetry Friday: Rediscovering Donald Hall and Jane Kenyon

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Tabatha Yeatts at The Opposite of Indifference has the Poetry Friday Round Up.


I’ve been drawn to the poetry of Donald Hall and Jane Kenyon this summer, returning to poems I knew and loved, and discovering new ones to immerse my self in and come to know.  At a lovely old bookstore tucked into the hills around our farm, I discovered Hall’s poetic memoir of the season’s as they are experienced at his farm:

seasons at eagle pond

Here’s a little snippet of his prose poetry – lovely and perfect:

Not only the whippoorwill wakes us on this long day and its briefer cousins of high summer. Every bough bends with feathered guests singing of summer in full-throated ease. Now the blue jay squawks and the fat crows caw – big as hens and black as evil where they gather on roadkills or on seeded fields – and the small birds trill, chirp and exult or appear to exult; at least we exult as the pale light rises early casting a pink yellow glow on the eastern slopes of Kearsarge…Summer is one continual morning under greeny leaves looking across greeny hayfields.

It’s hard to read Kenyon’s poetry without falling in love with the way she infuses the ordinary with the extraordinary.  In his afterward to her posthumously published volume of poetry, “Otherwise”, Hall writes that Kenyon’s “poetry gathered resonance and beauty as she studied the art of the luminous particular.  “The natural object” – she liked to quote Pound – “is always the adequate symbol”.  Noticing the “luminous particular” – such a wonderful art to cultivate, especially in the Summer.

Philosophy in Warm Weather

Now all the doors and windows
are open, and we move so easily
through the rooms. Cats roll
on the sunny rugs, and a clumsy wasp
climbs the pane, pausing
to rub a leg over her head.

All around physical life reconvenes.
The molecules of our bodies must love
to exist: they whirl in circles
and seem to begrudge us nothing.
Heat, Horatio, heat makes them
put this antic disposition on!

This year’s brown spider
sways over the door as I come
and go. A single poppy shouts
from the far field, and the crow,
beyond alarm, goes right on
pulling up the corn.


8 thoughts on “Poetry Friday: Rediscovering Donald Hall and Jane Kenyon

  1. I always think of them together, and like the way you’re reading back and forth this summer. I’m more drawn to Donald Hall’s gorgeous prose than his poetry, how he brings in the perfect details you mention and his reverence for nature. I hope you are reading some of that on a porch!

  2. You always bring the gift of words from many places to us, Tara. This is beautiful, and I love the idea of you reading both on your own farm porch. Love this: “Summer is one continual morning.” Thanks for every bit.

  3. As my summer slips away into thoughts and plans about school, I love to sit with these poems and imagine again the simpleness of the days. “The molecules of our bodies must love to exist.”

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