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The Selected Poems of Donald Hall

4.32  ·  Rating details ·  206 ratings  ·  44 reviews
Former poet laureateDonald Hall selects the essential work from a moving and brilliant life in poetry.

Long-Listed for the 2016 National Book Award

Donald Hall was an American master, one of the nation’s most beloved and accomplished poets. Here, in his eighties, having taken stock of the body of his work—rigorous, gorgeous verse that is the result of seventy years of “
Hardcover, 160 pages
Published December 1st 2015 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
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Aug 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I am simpatico with most of Hall's interests: nature, New England, farms, cows, horses, food, history, gardens, marriage, and death. There's a nice mix of styles, too, unlike some poets who write like one-trick ponies.

This book is a small selection of Hall's best according to Hall. Many of them are inspired by the death of his wife, poet Jane Kenyon. Granted, this is an unwanted Muse, but life deals randomly, and the God who giveth happiness takes it away just as quickly. Some of us are lucky,
A nicely trim (<200-pp.) verse collection spanning the decades-long career of New Hampshire's best-known living poet, heavily autobiographical, largely inward-looking, meditative, and fundamentally traditional in its reliance on straightforward narrative as a vehicle for quiet epiphanies about death and the cycle of the seasons. If you're looking for, I dunno, scintillating wordplay or exciting formal experimentation or risky political or philosophical engagement, then this may not be the ...more
robin friedman
Mar 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing
An Aging Poet Revisits His Art

Donald Hall (1928 -- 2018) knew from early adolescence that he wanted to be a poet; and he has, indeed, devoted his life to the art. Hall has published many books of poetry and memoirs and received numerous honors, including his designation as Poet Laureate of the United States from 2006 -- 2007. In his mid-80s, Hall discovered that he no longer had the ability to write poems. He instead revisited the body of his life's work and selected 79 of what he deemed his
Pam ☼Because Someone Must Be a Thorn☼ Tee
If it's hard to review books in a way that provides help to those who might want to buy them-- or not. It's near impossible to do the same with a book of poems. A collection of poems can vary so much, and poetry like wine can be pleasing to one person and leave another frowning. Poems are so very personal. So what can I tell you...

Donald Hall has written all kinds of poems during his long life. Some for children, some for adults. This book is for adults. It's a collection from the many stages of
Jul 15, 2018 rated it really liked it
When asked what kinds of poems he wrote, Donald Hall replied his poems were about "Love, death, and New Hampshire." I loved his poems about the first two subjects.

This self-curated collection from Hall (who died recently in late June 2018) is wonderful, if of sometimes limited relatability. His most moving poems regard the death of his wife and his struggle with that. In everything from the small routines he no longer takes part in or his attempts to find solace in other women (always
Feb 07, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Most all of us have, at one time or another tried to write poetry. I suspect that percentage is extremely high for the people who use a site like Goodreads. I have written poetry, I wrote one for my wife on Valentine's Day just recently. Sometimes I even think it's pretty good. Then, innocently, one picks up a book of the poetry of Donald Hall. It is like being a decent player on your high school team and suddenly trying to play in the NBA. Not only are you outclassed, but you see how much ...more
Christine Zibas
Jan 18, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Now in his 80s, this former Poet Laureate claims he has lost his touch with poetry (although he is still writing prose...most recently a book of essays). He's lost a lot of other things along the way, including his wife at 47. Yet the imagery captured in his poetry assures his readers that much remains and much has been shared of his life through his carefully selected words.

In the Afterword that appears at the end of "The Selected Poems of Donald Hall" -- as well as in the November/December
Jan 21, 2016 rated it really liked it
Reading The Selected Poems of Donald Hall took me to a place where the bones of New England were exposed with love and dignity. Familiar mountain names conjured up post card pictures in my mind, but the words of the poet gave personality to those pictures. “Ox Cart Man” took me full circle in that man’s life. “Old Timer’s Day” reminded me of a very special Number Nine. And, finally, “Love Is Like Sounds” left me this:

Love is like sounds, whose last reverberations
Hang on the leaves of strange
Cooper Renner
Perhaps the very strongest poems here are the rhymed and metered elegies to Jane Kenyon, inspired by the poems Thomas Hardy wrote in the wake of his first wife's death.
Nathan Albright
Oct 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: challenge2017

This collection of poems is properly a "best of compilation" of poems from a celebrate contemporary poet and the husband of the late poet Jane Kenyon, to whom some of these poems are dedicated. As someone who is no stranger to reading collections of poetry [1], I found this book to be an excellent one. There is considerable interest in the fact that this poetry captures a long span of the career of the poet, where the poems begin with a clear rhyme and meter and move on to more experimental
Feb 26, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry
It is a lost road into the air.
It is a desert
among sugar beets.
The tiny wings
of the Spitfires of nineteen forty-one
sink under mud in the Channel.

Near the road a brick pillbox
totters under a load of grass,
where Home Guards waited
in the fogs of the invasion winter.

Good night, old ruined war.

In Poland the wind rides on a jagged wall.
Smoke rises from the stones; no, it is mist.
- An Airstrip in Essex, 1960, pg. 7

* * *

Then the knee of the wave
turned to stone.

By the cliff of her flank
I anchored,

in the
Shawn Thrasher
Dec 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Donald Hall looks crazy on the cover of this book. Not serial killer crazy, but crazy like an artist, crazy like he'd be dangerous to know and talk to, he'd expand your mind, he'd confuse you with beautiful words, he'd lead you down precarious adventurous paths you weren't expecting to trod.

His poems are like that too. When you read poetry, some poems are complicated. Sometimes that is a good thing. Sometimes it is not. Some poems sing. Some poems prod. Some poems plod. Some poems are not right
Aug 17, 2019 rated it it was ok
I would've really liked it, but I found he sounded like a dirty old man in many of his poems. Call me a prude, but I can only handle so many poems in which a septuagenarian writes of his sex life using the f-word. Yeesh. I did, however, like the stuff about baseball or nature, like this:


One midnight, after a day when lilies
lift themselves out of the ground while you watch them,
and you come into the house at dark
your fingers grubby with digging, your eyes
vague with the pleasure of
Dec 20, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry

Pale gold of the walls, gold
of the centers of daisies, yellow roses
pressing from a clear bowl. A day
we lay on the bed, my hand
stroking the deep
gold of your thighs and your back.
We slept and woke
entering the golden room together,
lay down in it breathing
quickly, then
slowly again,
caressing and dozing, your hand sleepily
touching my hair now.

We made in those days
tiny identical rooms inside our bodies
which the men who uncover our graves
will find in a thousand years,
shining and whole.


Kathleen Mickelson
Jul 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry
This is a book that I've read a little of each morning over the first half of this summer. That Donald Hall passed away when I was in the middle of the book was particularly poignant given that he wrote, in an essay at the end of this collection, about not making anymore poetry now in his old age. These poems are from a lifetime of work, of love and marriage and living in New Hampshire. They honor the miracle of the everyday, tease apart the complicated feelings of growing older and the losses ...more
Oct 08, 2018 rated it liked it
Since I normally don't read poetry, one has to consider this when reading this review. I read this because of my enjoyment of one of Donald Hall's prose books and simply read this out of curiosity. Some of the poems I really enjoyed and others I just found absurd. Considering he's one of the masters of poetry, this doesn't speak well of my appreciation of poetry. However, it is my honest review.
Jun 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2018
I was reading this collection before his death was announced and finished it now. It is a beautiful selection, culled by the poet himself, from the entirety of his career. Many of the poems center on his care-giving and ultimate loss of his beloved wife Jane Kenyon. A stunning introduction and survey of one of America's greatest poets.
Andrea Rosenthal
Jan 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Exquisite! Unmatched. If you haven't read Donald Hall, this is a great place to start. I can't even begin to list all of the ways I treasure his work. I was so sad when he died a few months ago. The poems from his later years are some of his very best.
Dec 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing
These poems are not made of pretty rhythms and rhymes; they are not offbeat experimentation with unusual words and forms; they are not for kids; they are not about deep literary symbols. They mostly contain simple words in simple sentences, leaving powerful impressions and insights.
Sep 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Made more powerful by the strong curation. The reader gets a good sense of Hall’s styles and themes (New Hampshire, the death of his wife, poet Jane Kenyon). Not every poem landed for me but there were multiple breathtakers.
Dylan Perry
I don't know if this is in chronological order or not but I found the later poems stronger than the early, and the ones of life after the death of his second wife both powerful and poignant. Personally, I prefer his essays to his poetry, however this still stands on its own. 3.5/5
May 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I love this man so much.
Dianne Ruff
Feb 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
read as a companion to the essays book.
Drew Rupard
Sep 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Lovely lovely lovely and sad and human
Jan 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It’s been awhile since I’ve read great poetry. I’m glad I came across Donald Hall.
Jessie Wheeler
Dec 10, 2019 rated it really liked it
I am so sorry, that it took me this long to fall in love with Donald Hall!
I must admit that I am fonder of his prose than his poetry. But still...I miss him!
Oct 28, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: aмерика, poetry
“love, death and New Hampshire”
Sep 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is a collection of poems by the recently deceased Donald Hall. Like all of his poetry these are quality poems from a poet with decades of experience.
A. Collins
Aug 16, 2018 rated it liked it
These are lovely poems about “love, death, and New Hampshire.” I believe I will enjoy them more when I return in a better mood.
Jason M.
Oct 23, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry
As much as I can love Donald Hall, a good number of these poems just don't do it for me. Not because I think they're bad or anything but because they just aren't my cup of tea.

"Kill the Day" and "Ardor," however, have enough greatness in them to almost make the not-as-greats immediately forgotten.
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Donald Hall was an American poet, writer, editor and literary critic. 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. Donald Hall published numerous books of poetry. Besides poetry, Donald Hall wrote books on baseball, the sculptor Henry Moore, and the poet Marianne Moore. He was also the author ...more