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Love, Death, and the Changing of the Seasons

4.10  ·  Rating details ·  470 ratings  ·  39 reviews
This critically acclaimed sonnet sequence is the passionately intense story of a love affair between two women, from the electricity of their first acquaintance to the experience of their parting.
Paperback, 212 pages
Published March 17th 1995 by W. W. Norton Company (first published 1986)
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 ·  470 ratings  ·  39 reviews


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MacKenzie
Sep 05, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Anyone who has ever been in love ought to read this book. Any woman who has ever been in love with another woman absolutely must read this book. Anyone who believes form in poetry trite will be changed by this book (and by Hacker's poetry in general).

I have heard Hacker read her work; each word is not merely tasted, but savored in her mouth. This book will reveal layers of flavor to you if you give it the same attentiveness.

Plus, it's real hott sometimes, too...my favorite combination of
...more
Tyler
Dec 05, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Hacker cuts to the quick of it here, capturing love (and loss) as it occurs in the heat of the moment. One gets the sense that each poem was written breathlessly, in the wake of some intense emotion or another. In a way, the cycle is a long string of "morning-afters" (a year of them, in fact) - in which the entirety of a beautiful (and flawed) relationship is captured and distilled. There's an immediacy here that's lacking in most poetry I've read (and just for the record, the final poem in this ...more
Alice
Jan 08, 2008 rated it it was amazing
The rise and fall of a love affair, one poem at a time. This is simply a beautiful work of art.
Nicola
May 14, 2012 rated it really liked it
Overall, a good primer on how to reinvent form, feminism, writing about eros. She will definitely make you blush!
John Vanderslice
Sep 10, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This is my favorite book by Hacker. She long ago has proven herself a master at using forms, and breathing new life into them, in this present era of free verse. And LDCS is my favorite book by her. These sonnets are smart, funny, passionate (extremely passionate), and amazingly supple. The way in which she is able to make rhymes sound perfectly natural, even casual, is astounding. I read this book along with my class in a course I was teaching called Sonnet Writing Workshop. There is so much to ...more
Grace
Apr 10, 2016 rated it it was ok
Shelves: poetry, 2016-read
There's a raw honesty in Hacker's poems. Vivid imagery was also incorporated. Vivid and really intimate scenes, but after reading ten, twenty of them, it lost its novelty for me and my interest; hence, the two stars.
Tanneke Zeeuw
May 06, 2008 rated it really liked it
Read this as I was coming out, writing poetry myself and formulating how I wanted to live as a feminist. Some stanzas still echo in my head today.
Zoë
Feb 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Love, Death and the Changing of the Seasons is my first taste of Hacker, as a young lesbian exploring sapphic poetry and literature. Her sonnets are wonderfully sensual and frank and it was as though I could feel her aching through the pages.

My favorite poem was "Didn’t Sappho say her guts clutched up like this?" She spills out her love and fears with a vulnerability that I admire:

Although I’d cream my jeans touching your breast,
sweetheart, it isn’t lust; it’s all the rest
of what I want with
...more
Suzanne Stroh
Mar 29, 2013 rated it it was amazing
A poetic masterpiece, simply a tour de force by a fiercely intelligent, sensitive poet who set out to write a novel in poetry. Then she decided to make things a little harder. How about doing it in sonnets? Shakespeare never tried that!

And guess what? These sonnets are perfect. All of them. And they flow like a river. And like the river flowing to the sea, the narrative deepens. The voices of the characters emerge. Almost begin to read the poems aloud. The story that results will break your
...more
Stephy
Apr 27, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: People Who Love Words and Women
Recommended to Stephy by: It was a gift
This is a book of Love Poetry, written by Marilyn Hacker, an already famous poet. I more than like her. I admire her gifts of words to the world. I respect her a great deal. This should be recognized as word portraits of moments between lovers, magnificently touched to include feelings we mere mortals cannot put into words. The Poets with their word nets, chase them down and pin them to paper, and if we are lucky, we see them.

As a woman, she writes about love, death and as the title says, the
...more
Nina
Dec 31, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry, reread
I was having a late-night conversation with my pal Ryan Kalas about the solstice, and somehow he said something about how he enjoyed talking to me about life and death. And then I remembered this book! I'd read it in college when Marilyn Hacker came to visit our intro to feminist studies class, but it resonated more now. I love the sonnets and other forms she uses here. I love how this is a novel, a story, in which every word counts (and can be counted, syllabically). I also like how the rhythm ...more
P
Oct 07, 2011 rated it it was amazing
My God, this book is absolutely stunning. Hacker's poetry is truly inspirational, beautiful and poignant. Her sonnets about this past love affair, in particular are composed so articulately with great honesty. I was captivated from the very first page and left completely speechless when I turned the last. Her ability to capture the intensity of longing, lust and love in such sensuality is amazing. Also, her masterful artistic abilities as a poet further deepens my admiration for her as one of my ...more
Mandy
Feb 09, 2012 rated it it was amazing
So so amazing! Probably the best collection/sequence of poems I've read in a long time (ever?). The narrative really resonated with me - it was honest and poignant and emotionally powerful. Hacker's language is nuanced, erotic, and just beautiful. I dog-eared over half of the poems in order to return to and savor them again.
Jennifer
I had known about this since reading Pages for You, and always wondered a little about it and looked for it in used bookstores; it wasn't until I needed it, until I found myself crying at three a.m. and racking up huge charges on Alibris in the wake of my divorce, that I decided that I shouldn't leave it up to chance to own a copy.
Vicki
Jun 23, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This was the first "lesbian" book I read when I finally got free and moved to LA in the late 1980's. This poetry about Hacker's relationship with a younger woman who finally leaves her is sexy, troubling...changed my life.
Aimee
Jun 23, 2007 rated it it was amazing
My favorite poetry book of all time.
Mat
Jul 04, 2007 rated it really liked it
changed forever how i feel about the sonnet.
Barrett Brassfield
Dec 27, 2015 rated it it was amazing
In a word, simply great. Wait, that is two words, but you get the idea. I recently read a review of her most recent edition of collected poems, 1994-2014 and decided to revisit this classic. This was actually a re-read for me as I first encountered this emotionally devastating collection of poems some years back after the end of a very long relationship. Love, Death, and the Changing of the Seasons captures the full circle of a relationship from the giddy beginnings to the desolate heartache of ...more
Marjorie Jensen
Jan 30, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This sonnet sequence is one of my favorites. I read it as part of a undergrad independent study when I was writing my first sonnet sequence, and I found it inspiring and beautiful. I'm currently working on my third collection of sonnets, and I occasionally reread some of Marilyn Hacker's poems when I'm trying to attract my muse.
Claire Genevieve
Dec 16, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: verse-novels
Verse novels, and other long-form poems, are obscure and little known. However, they are generally pretty awesome, this one is no exception. A tale of love and change.

Beautiful
Bohemian Bluestocking
Nov 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Low-brow, high-brow, these sonnets made me weep and feel I had friends, felt sad and like home, made me miss Europe again. Will use in a queer lit class or poetry workshop for sure. Also, who is Ray and what does she think about this tome for her? Basically this is The L Word in sonnet form. The book of poetry is a chronological story that depicts a May-December relationship that sort of unravels but there is passion along the way. It was insightful reading about this older lesbian with a ...more
Leanne Sarubbi
Nov 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Unexpected, challenging, hot, sad, honest, intimidating, inspiring, quite possibly a little bit life changing but who knows.
I feel very fortunate to have read this. It carved out a big space in me and took up residence. Not counting all the stuff that went over my head. Will work on that.
Nancy Zigler
Jan 22, 2018 rated it it was ok
Elusive, but with a few good moments I connected with.
tee
Sep 01, 2010 rated it liked it
I need to reread this when I've a)become smarter and b)become a polyglot and also c)developed an attention span. I came into this with high expectations because the handful of ratings on GR are high, the reviews are favourable. I was bored. This is more likely to be a fault of mine than the author and a matter of me reading the right book at the wrong time but I couldn't get into it. I was reading it after climbing into bed at night and falling straight asleep. I didn't have any interest in ...more
Amy
Jan 16, 2008 rated it liked it
Shelves: poetry
Book length sonnet sequence about the love affair between two women, from the moment they meet to their eventual parting. Marilyn Hacker's sonnets are technically flawless...and often very charming. They are, unfortunately, also a little boring from time to time, or the book would have received higher marks overall.
Justin
Aug 22, 2007 rated it liked it
I loved these at first; sonnets make by brain feel good, and marrying the formal structure with contemporary language made for some really evocative poems - but by the end I started to feel a little worn down by the neverending romantic struggles and started yearning for something a bit.. less... hormonal
Lacie Carmody
Feb 20, 2016 rated it liked it
Hacker's work in this collection read like the perfect marriage between prose and poetry. The emotions and feelings of attractions she captures in her pieces are raw and visceral at times, but all the more believable. Though I'm not a particularly huge fan of poetry, this piece was well worth the read and is definitely worth checking out.
Emmi
Jun 05, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: bookgroup, poetry
You can read it either as poetry, one at a time, slowly, working out the meaning of every line and getting a sense of each poem. Or you can read it as narrative, more quickly, reading a bunch of poems in a row, not worrying about the meaning of every line but getting the story. Either way it works.
Kate
Jul 23, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry
Great, surprising poetry that when read in one fell swoop reads like a sexy novel.
Highjump
Sep 16, 2016 rated it it was amazing
If you've ever loved a woman you should read this collection
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Marilyn Hacker is an American poet, translator, critic, and professor of English.

Her books of poetry include Presentation Piece (1974), which won the National Book Award, Love, Death, and the Changing of the Seasons (1986), and Going Back to the River (1990). In 2009, Hacker won the PEN Award for Poetry in Translation for King of a Hundred Horsemen by Marie Étienne, which also garnered the first
...more
“i'm alternatingly brilliant and witless-and sleepless: bed is just a swamp to roll in.” 16 likes
“[Didn’t Sappho say her guts clutched up like this?]"

Didn’t Sappho say her guts clutched up like this?
Before a face suddenly numinous,
her eyes watered, knees melted. Did she lactate
again, milk brought down by a girl’s kiss?
It’s documented torrents are unloosed
by such events as recently produced
not the wish, but the need, to consume, in us,
one pint of Maalox, one of Kaopectate.
My eyes and groin are permanently swollen,
I’m alternatingly brilliant and witless
—and sleepless: bed is just a swamp to roll in.
Although I’d cream my jeans touching your breast,
sweetheart, it isn’t lust; it’s all the rest
of what I want with you that scares me shitless.”
1 likes
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