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Without: Poems

4.30  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,182 Ratings  ·  101 Reviews
You might expect the fact of dying--the dying of a beloved wife and fellow poet--to make for a bleak and lonely tale. But Donald Hall's poignant and courageous poetry, facing that dread fact, involves us all: the magnificent, humorous, and gifted woman, Jane Kenyon, who suffered and died; the doctors and nurses who tried but failed to save her; the neighbors, friends, and ...more
Hardcover, 96 pages
Published April 7th 1998 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (first published 1998)
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(showing 1-30 of 2,053)
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Stephanie
Mar 02, 2014 Stephanie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: must-own
This was a library group read and I have to admit when I was first handed it, my teeth were set. "Poetry, really?" inside I said, with a deep groan! But let me say I fell in love with this "little" book and now it is in my Amazon cart to own.
I have no words for this book, so let me just quote two poems that effected me deeply, in no way the deepest but to me a couple of the most tender.

"This morning Gussie
woke me up. I let him out, fed Ada,
took Gus back in again,
and fed him. Then I went to the
...more
Angelica
Nov 02, 2009 Angelica rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2009
"The hour/we lived in, two decades/by the pond, has transformed/into a single unstoppable day,/gray in the dwelling-place/of absence."

"If someone had told us then/you would die in nineteen years,/would it have sounded/like almost enough time?"

"I loved to turn up in your poems/I imagined those you'd make/after I died; I regretted/I wouldn't be able to read them."

A book of poems filled with adoring devotion for his wife. Honest, humble and profoundly pained observations of the process of losing an
...more
Lynn
Sep 22, 2015 Lynn rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book totally caught me by surprise. I read it late one night/early one morning without stopping. It was so raw with emotion, yet so dear to heart. I could feel the pain and grief Hall was feeling. I shed tears on more than one occasion. Unfortunately, I was reading a library book. I had to keep stopping myself from picking up a highlighter to mark passages. If you get the opportunity to read it, this book is definitely worth a couple of hours of your time.
Jimmy
Aug 17, 2015 Jimmy rated it it was amazing
Mr. Hall tells the story of his wife Jane Kenyon dying of cancer. Heartbreaking shit.
Ruth
Dec 29, 2014 Ruth rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Until now, I was not a huge Donald Hall fan, but I liked him okay. I found “Unpacking the boxes” almost boring, but he is a wordsmith, so it was worth reading.

This book of poetry is about Jane, Mr. Hall’s wife, who died of leukemia about twenty years into their marriage, in her forties.

I found it in hard copy at a bookstore in Sonoma County, and felt like I won a scratch ticket. I was on vacation and dropping a ton of dough that week, so eight bucks for a slim hard cover did not seem steep.

It
...more
Marie Chow
May 08, 2014 Marie Chow rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Cut to the Chase:
I don’t read much poetry… but what poetry I do read tends to be by Donald Hall and a handful of others. This is without a doubt my favorite single work by Hall, though it is lean, sparse, and an emotional roller coaster. Scratch that, roller coasters have ups and downs, this is a more of an emotional spiral into all of the edges and dimensions of love, death, and grief at its rawest. It is one of my favorite all time collections.

Greater Detail:
Normally, this is where I would cut
...more
Roderick
Nov 16, 2015 Roderick rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
The difficulty with this book lies in separating the subject matter from the execution of the work. While the content is clearly devastating beyond measure, the poems themselves fall prey to what is true of so much of what purports to be "poetry" in the current moment, namely that it's not poetry at all. Rather, this is an extended series of rather banal journal entries with random line breaks to make it resemble actual poetry. Hall is not alone in this. Most contemporary poetry is the same way. ...more
Molly
I read this first for an Intermediate Poetry class as an undergrad accompanied by Jane Kenyon's Otherwise. I don't think I could quite appreciate it as I do now, on the other side of loss. I am immersing myself in these volumes of poetry now that I have my own collection of loss-poetry as I try to figure out how my own manuscript will fall into place.
Sherry Chandler
Dec 05, 2007 Sherry Chandler rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: the whole world
Shelves: thepoets
Without is an affecting book, one of the few books of poetry that I have read through at a sitting. It is not pleasant reading, I don’t know whether it is always poetry, but it is always an honest look into the heart of grief, and as such a comfort in a way to those of us who see our own grief coming.
Holly
Aug 06, 2008 Holly rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I don't usually like reading an entire book of poetry at one sitting--but this was a rare exception. It's a sad, lovely story about Hall's wife, (Jane Kenyon, another poet) how he loved her and how she died.
Jessica
Nov 18, 2010 Jessica rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Have I read this at least twenty times? Yes. Am I still a weeping mess after every read? Yes. Does Donald Hall know what he's doing? Yes.
Alan
Nov 04, 2014 Alan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Donald Hall's Without, intimately describes the loss of his wife, Jane Kenyon, while perpetually straddling the line of sentimentality. At times, I felt isolated from moments and details which felt too specific to Hall and Kenyon. I say this reluctantly, as specific and concrete details are what make this book a simultaneous joy and devastation to read. Without paces itself through Hall's close attention to poem length and varying momentum and sections. While Hall's collection could be read in a ...more
Austen to Zafón
Sep 05, 2015 Austen to Zafón rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry, own-tp
Donald Hall's wife, the poet Jane Kenyon, died of leukemia in her 40s. This is an intimate look into the process of supporting her, while suffering the pain of the coming loss and it's aftermath.

Alone together a moment
on the twenty-second anniversary
of their wedding,
he clasped her as she stood
at the sink, pressing
into her backside, rubbing his cheek
against the stubble
of her skull. He gave her a ring
of pink tourmaline
with nine small diamonds around it.
She put it on her finger
and immediately nam
...more
Ruth
Dec 03, 2007 Ruth rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Poems about the early death of his wife, Jane Kenyon. Relentlessly sad, but some poems are real gems.

R
Audrey
May 23, 2010 Audrey rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry
One of the most touching collections of poems I have ever read. Sweet and funny and sad.
Elaine
Jul 13, 2012 Elaine rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Tender and beautifully written.

Should be read cover to cover, in order.
Amanda Carver
Oct 01, 2009 Amanda Carver rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry
Far be it from me to knock a book of poems about a man's dead wife.
Patricia
Jul 20, 2010 Patricia rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry
I bought this book after attending a seminar with Donald Hall a number of years ago. Like a lot of poetry books I buy, it sat on the shelf until the right time came to read it. This collection of poems is Hall's poetic response to the loss of his Jane Kenyon and as such addresses the last year of her life and the first year following her death. It is the poetry of grief. The ache of loss bellows from these poems, making it a powerful read.

As a writer, I also found something else that Hall spo
...more
Robert Beveridge
Donald Hall, Without (Houghton Mifflin, 1998)

Donald Hall is one of America's most accomplished men of letters, and never has he been more so than in Without. Published on the third anniversary of the death of his wife, the late poet Jane Kenyon, Without is split into two sections. The first details the months leading up to her death, and as expected, the poems in this section are fraught, fast-moving, tense, full of alternating hope and fear, as well as the quotidian agony of chemotherapy and im
...more
Janelle
Donald Hall’s book of poetry Without: Poems is about a dying wife and a dying poet. These poems were very interesting because it took the form of a book, but yet remained a collection of poetry, but the whole piece told a story. The beginning of the collection of poetry was a poem entitled “Her long illness” in the poem Donald Hall painted a picture of a dedicated husband who was beside his dying wife that had been stricken with cancer. There was a part that stood out to me which was “he worked; ...more
Helen
Jul 22, 2014 Helen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Sometimes, when reading poetry, it takes a long time to get through, not necessarily because the poems are bad, or boring, but just because I just can't relate to them. I have never had that problem with Donald Hall's poetry, especially those that deal with the death of his wife Jane Kenyon from leukemia. Sadly, as cancer continues to eat away at the lives of people I love, I seem to relate more and more to Hall, one of my favorite contemporary American poets.

Without is the collection written a
...more
Penn
Aug 22, 2015 Penn rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry
There were certainly poems in this collection that I liked, but I preferred the prose in The Best Day the worst Day, that covered Jane Kenyon's struggle with Leukemia. Not so much in poem form. I preferred, in general, the poems written after her death in this collection.
Lindsey
Donald Hall was married to the poet Jane Kenyon, and this book of poems covers the last year of her life (she died of Leukemia) and the first year after her death. I struggled with what to rate this book (3 and 1/2 stars would feel more appropriate) because parts of it were frustrating, while others were incredibly touching and beautiful. Overall, Hall manages to walk that fine line of writing personal poems without making them feel irrelevant to an outside reader; given his devastation at the l ...more
Denise
Sep 04, 2015 Denise rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a collection of elegiac poems from a man who watches his wife and fellow poet die of leukemia. It is full of sadness and rage that anyone who has lost a love one can understand.

Please read the rest of the review here.
Jane
Jul 04, 2012 Jane rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites, poetry
This is the most powerful, poignant, beautifully written book of poetry I have ever read. These poems are written to and for Donald Hall's wife, poet Jane Kenyon, who died in 1995. Liz Rosenberg of the Boston Globe said my feelings best: "It is a remarkably beautiful and generous book, beautiful in all its terrible specifics of the daily ordeal of death, and generous to the memory of the force of life his wife possessed. The result, I think, is his strongest book yet...a work of art, love, and g ...more
Amber
Jan 18, 2015 Amber rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Poignant and relate-able without being overdramatic or self-centered. This was a beautiful collection, and I would highly recommend it to anyone currently going through the loss of a loved one.
Aimee
Sep 11, 2007 Aimee rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry, grief-loss
My friend Hartman had this book and suggested I take a look at it one night when we were over there. I am very interested in studying grief and loss so he knew I would enjoy it.

I started reading the first poem and couldn't stop. I read the whole book while we all were sitting there conversing.

It is moving, heartfelt, passionate, sad and truly a powerful book of love and friendship. I was completely taken with his words and his writing style is so beautiful and easy to read for an amateur reade
...more
Lola Mark
Jul 08, 2015 Lola Mark rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015, verse, poetry
This is the most raw, beautiful, and captivating collection of poems I have ever had the pleasure of reading. *claps*
Anna
Jun 27, 2015 Anna rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Honestly, it lacks for poetic impact. The story is sad...there are intermittent bursts of alliteration...but it didn't really read as great poetry to me. If not the assigned reading for my poetry group, I would not have read through to the end.
Andrea
Oct 10, 2007 Andrea rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
When I first read this years ago, it devastated me. I cried and cried and cried, and my poetry teacher said, "Well yes, it's sad, but is it good poetry?" which I thought was unusually cruel and heartless, even for him. But upon rereading, I'm wondering if there wasn't some truth to his statement. This book will tear out your heart, but there are many places where we leave the world of poetry entirely and enter the world of newspaper writing. Which is a fine place to be, but maybe not so much in ...more
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  • Otherwise: New and Selected Poems
  • Rose
  • Atlantis
  • The Wellspring
  • Given Sugar, Given Salt
  • Human Wishes
  • Delights and Shadows
  • The Good Thief
  • Sweet Ruin
  • What Work Is
  • The Country Between Us
  • What We Carry
  • The Collected Poems
  • Refusing Heaven
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Donald Hall was born in New Haven, Connecticut, in 1928. He began writing as an adolescent and attended the Bread Loaf Writers' Conference at the age of sixteen—the same year he had his first work published. He earned a B.A. from Harvard in 1951 and a B. Litt. from Oxford in 1953.

Donald Hall has published numerous books of poetry, most recently White Apples and the Taste of Stone: Selected Poems 1
...more
More about Donald Hall...

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