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Best Famous Donald Hall Poems


Here is a collection of the all-time best famous Donald Hall poems. This is a select list of the best famous Donald Hall poetry. Reading, writing, and enjoying famous Donald Hall poetry (as well as classical and contemporary poems) is a great past time. These top poems are the best examples of Donald Hall poems.

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by Robert Bly |

The Cat in the Kitchen

 (For Donald Hall)

Have you heard about the boy who walked by
The black water? I won't say much more.
Let's wait a few years. It wanted to be entered.
Sometimes a man walks by a pond, and a hand
Reaches out and pulls him in.

There was no
Intention, exactly. The pond was lonely, or needed
Calcium, bones would do. What happened then?

It was a little like the night wind, which is soft,
And moves slowly, sighing like an old woman
In her kitchen late at night, moving pans
About, lighting a fire, making some food for the cat.


by Donald Hall |

An old life

 Snow fell in the night.
At five-fifteen I woke to a bluish
mounded softness where 
the Honda was. Cat fed and coffee made,
I broomed snow off the car
and drove to the Kearsarge Mini-Mart
before Amy opened 
to yank my Globe out of the bundle.
Back, I set my cup of coffee
beside Jane, still half-asleep,
murmuring stuporous
thanks in the aquamarine morning.
Then I sat in my blue chair 
with blueberry bagels and strong
black coffee reading news, 
the obits, the comics, and the sports.
Carrying my cup twenty feet, 
I sat myself at the desk
for this day's lifelong
engagement with the one task and desire.


by Donald Hall |

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.


by Donald Hall |

A Poet at Twenty

 Images leap with him from branch to branch. His eyes
brighten, his head cocks, he pauses under a green bough,
alert.
And when I see him I want to hide him somewhere.
The other wood is past the hill. But he will enter it, and find the particular maple. He will walk through the door of the maple, and his arms will pull out of their sockets, and the blood will bubble from his mouth, his ears, his penis, and his nostrils. His body will rot. His body will dry in ropey tatters. Maybe he will grow his body again, three years later. Maybe he won't.
There is nothing to do, to keep this from happening.
It occurs to me that the greatest gentleness would put a bullet into his bright eye. And when I look in his eye, it is not his eye that I see.


by Donald Hall |

Distressed Haiku

 In a week or ten days
the snow and ice
will melt from Cemetery Road.

I'm coming! Don't move!

Once again it is April.
Today is the day
we would have been married
twenty-six years.

I finished with April
halfway through March.

You think that their
dying is the worst
thing that could happen.

Then they stay dead.

Will Hall ever write
lines that do anything
but whine and complain?

In April the blue
mountain revises
from white to green.

The Boston Red Sox win
a hundred straight games.
The mouse rips
the throat of the lion

and the dead return.


by Donald Hall |

Name of Horses

 All winter your brute shoulders strained against collars, padding 
and steerhide over the ash hames, to haul 
sledges of cordwood for drying through spring and summer, 
for the Glenwood stove next winter, and for the simmering range.

In April you pulled cartloads of manure to spread on the fields, 
dark manure of Holsteins, and knobs of your own clustered with oats.
All summer you mowed the grass in meadow and hayfield, the mowing machine 
clacketing beside you, while the sun walked high in the morning;

and after noon's heat, you pulled a clawed rake through the same acres, 
gathering stacks, and dragged the wagon from stack to stack, 
and the built hayrack back, uphill to the chaffy barn, 
three loads of hay a day from standing grass in the morning.

Sundays you trotted the two miles to church with the light load 
a leather quartertop buggy, and grazed in the sound of hymns. 
Generation on generation, your neck rubbed the windowsill 
of the stall, smoothing the wood as the sea smooths glass.

When you were old and lame, when your shoulders hurt bending to graze,
one October the man, who fed you and kept you, and harnessed you every morning,
led you through corn stubble to sandy ground above Eagle Pond,
and dug a hole beside you where you stood shuddering in your skin,

and lay the shotgun's muzzle in the boneless hollow behind your ear,
and fired the slug into your brain, and felled you into your grave, 
shoveling sand to cover you, setting goldenrod upright above you,
where by next summer a dent in the ground made your monument.

For a hundred and fifty years, in the Pasture of dead horses,
roots of pine trees pushed through the pale curves of your ribs,
yellow blossoms flourished above you in autumn, and in winter
frost heaved your bones in the ground - old toilers, soil makers:

O Roger, Mackerel, Riley, Ned, Nellie, Chester, Lady Ghost.


by Donald Hall |

Sudden Things

 A storm was coming, that was why it was dark. The wind was blowing the fronds of the palm trees off. They were maples. I looked out the window across the big lawn. The house was huge, full of children and old people. The lion was loose. Either because of the wind, or by malevolent human energy, which is the same thing, the cage had come open. Suppose a child walked outside!

A child walked outside. I knew that I must protect him from the lion. I threw myself on top of the child. The lion roared over me. In the branches and the bushes there was suddenly a loud crackling. The lion cringed. I looked up and saw that the elephant was loose!

The elephant was taller than the redwoods. He was hairy like a mammoth. His tusks trailed vines. Parrots screeched around his head. His eyes rolled crazily. He trumpeted. The ice-cap was breaking up!

The lion backed off, whining. The boy ran for the house. I covered his retreat, locked all the doors and pulled the bars across them. An old lady tried to open a door to get a better look. I spoke sharply to her, she sat down grumbling and pulled a blanket over her knees.

Out of the window I saw zebras and rattlesnakes and wildebeests and cougars and woodchucks on the lawns and in the tennis courts. I worried how, after the storm, we would put the animals back in their cages, and get to the mainland.


by Donald Hall |

White Apples

 when my father had been dead a week
I woke with his voice in my ear 
I sat up in bed

and held my breath
and stared at the pale closed door

white apples and the taste of stone

if he called again
I would put on my coat and galoshes


by Donald Hall |

The Alligator Bride

 The clock of my days winds down.
The cat eats sparrows outside my window.
Once, she brought me a small rabbit
which we devoured together, under
the Empire Table
while the men shrieked
repossessing the gold umbrella.

Now the beard on my clock turns white.
My cat stares into dark corners
missing her gold umbrella.
She is in love
with the Alligator Bride.

Ah, the tiny fine white
teeth! The Bride, propped on her tail
in white lace
stares from the holes
of her eyes. Her stuck-open mouth
laughs at minister and people.

On bare new wood
fourteen tomatoes,
a dozen ears of corn,
six bottles of white wine,

a melon,
a cat,
broccoli
and the Alligator Bride.

The color of bubble gum,
the consistency of petroleum jelly,
wickedness oozes
from the palm of my left hand.
My cat licks it.
I watch the Alligator Bride.

Big houses like shabby boulders
hold themselves tight
in gelatin.
I am unable to daydream.
The sky is a gun aimed at me.
I pull the trigger.
The skull of my promises
leans in a black closet, gapes
with its good mouth
for a teat to suck.

A bird flies back and forth
in my house that is covered by gelatin
and the cat leaps at it
missing. Under the Empire Table
the Alligator Bride
lies in her bridal shroud.
My left hand
leaks on the Chinese carpet.


by Donald Hall |

Mount Kearsarge Shines

 Mount Kearsarge shines with ice; from hemlock branches 
snow slides onto snow; no stream, creek, or river 
budges but remains still. Tonight
we carry armloads of logs

from woodshed to Glenwood and build up the fire 
that keeps the coldest night outside our windows.
Sit by the woodstove, Camilla, 
while I bring glasses of white,

and we'll talk, passing the time, about weather 
without pretending that we can alter it:
Storms stop when they stop, no sooner,
leaving the birches glossy

with ice and bent glittering to rimy ground.
We'll avoid the programmed weatherman grinning 
from the box, cheerful with tempest,
and take the day as it comes,

one day at a time, the way everyone says,
These hours are the best because we hold them close
in our uxorious nation.
Soon we'll walk -- when days turn fair

and frost stays off -- over old roads, listening 
for peepers as spring comes on, never to miss 
the day's offering of pleasure
for the government of two.