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The Painted Bed: Poems

really liked it 4.00  ·  Rating details ·  304 ratings  ·  30 reviews
Donald Hall's fourteenth collection opens with an epigraph from the Urdu poet Faiz: "The true subject of poetry is the loss of the beloved." In that poetic tradition, as in THE PAINTED BED, the beloved might be a person or something else - life itself, or the disappearing countryside. Hall's new poems further the themes of love, death, and mourning so powerfully introduced ...more
Paperback, 112 pages
Published May 7th 2003 by Mariner Books (first published 2002)
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really liked it Average rating 4.00  · 
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J & J
Jun 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Reading about the death of Hall's wife was very difficult and I'm in awe of his ability to express his feelings so honestly and raw.
David Radavich
Jun 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I confess I haven't been that strong a fan of Donald Hall over the years, but this final book (I believe it to be) is remarkable. THE PAINTED BED grieves over the loss of Hall's wife, poet Jane Kenyon, with such piercingly brutal honesty that the poems take him and us to a deeper and higher level. Some might find this off-putting, but I found it bracing and true and beautiful in its often craggy way. The poems of loss are more satisfying than the more conventional evocations of New England histo ...more
Jul 24, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: poetry
The Painted Bed is Hall's second book (2002) dealing with the death of his wife, fellow poet Jane Kenyon. In this book, he writes about his grief and anger in the 2-3 years after her death, concluding in an awkward last section about finally making new attempts at sex and attraction. But the majority of the book is about loss in general, the loss of Jane but also other losses he has witnessed in the place and house he has known all his life.

The third section of the book is one poem, "Daylilies
Jul 19, 2007 rated it it was amazing
A poem from The Painted Bed:

White Apples
by Donald Hall

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
Aloysiusi Lionel
Jul 01, 2018 rated it really liked it
Presenting a variety of forms and tones, this volume of poems center on the poet's profound and carefully wrought utterance of grief for his wife's loss. His unparalleled use of euphony and tension has testified to Poetry's genuine role i.e. the remembrance of things past and the beloved's death. It is through our grip of memories, whether they are celebratory or lamentable, that we are able to lend language its penultimate poetic function. And we need to control the passions, and we need to lea ...more
Nov 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing
so moving
Apr 24, 2018 rated it it was ok
says the word "suppleness" far too much
Jun 24, 2020 rated it really liked it
As devastating as it is delightful.
Marie Chow
May 19, 2014 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mar 31, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

In the internet age, everything is shorter and quicker. It was not hard for me to figure out that K means Okay, but I had to look up that SMH means “shaking my head”, and it was quite a while before I learned tl;dr =too long, didn’t read.

My point is shorter doesn’t necessarily mean easier to understand. Which is one thing I have always loved about poetry. Of course, there are long poems, that go on for hundreds of pages, but mostly you can see a bunch of text on a page and know it is a poem. Re
It took me much too long to finish this book. I buried it under a pile of other books and discovered it while trying to clean my house. These are powerful poems, especially those that deal with loss.

There was a point when I would much prefer to read Jane Kenyon than Donald Hall. I somehow related to her poems more readily than to his. But now she is gone and I visit his pain like touching a sore tooth. I want to know how Hall's grief feels. I have not been to the place he now lives in. - I am no
Hope L. Justice
Jun 05, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: adult-poetry
Let me say this book is excellent, but I found it uneven. I loved the pace, its sweeping motion. It built me up into this beautiful sad place I almost couldn't bear, only yo watch it drop off and dwindle and waste my emotional investment in the last section of the book, 'Ardor'. Honestly I found myself going, who cares, about the entire last section. I could've done completely without.

A highlight for me, possibly my favorite moment:

'You think that their/dying is the worst/thing that could happ
Mary Helene
Apr 01, 2008 rated it really liked it
This is the continuation of the story. Here's a poem from this collection:

In June's high light she stood at the sink
With a glass of wine
And listened for the bobolink
And crushed garlic in late sunshine.

I watched her cooking, from my chair.
She pressed her lips
Together, reached for kitchenware,
And tasted sauce from fingertips.

"It's ready now. Come on," she said.
"You light the candle."
We ate, and talked, and went to bed,
And slept. It was a miracle.
May 14, 2012 rated it liked it
Hall wrote this after the death of his wife, and fellow poet, Jane Kenyon. I think it must have taken a lot of bravery to write this book. There's a poem where he describes having sex with someone who is not his wife (presumably after her death)that's haunting, all the more so for its playful tone in the villianelle form. Couple this book with Kenyon's poem "Otherwise," and it's heart breaking.
Dec 15, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Hall is a consummate craftsman, but I'm not sure I have what it takes to appreciate sections like Ardor. Who cares what the ballerina could do? And why write a villanelle about it? Still, I appreciate Hall's celebration of what is lost, his affirmation "that it is fitting/and delicious to lose everything."
Jacob Reid
Apr 14, 2014 rated it it was amazing
The first book of Donald Hall's poetry I've ever read and it was absolutely brilliant. His poetry is simple and does not require deep reading, although you can absolutely do so. I'd say the first half of the book is not for the faint of heart because of the raw depression and sadness that is in the words, but when it comes to grief there is no other way of experiencing it.
Aug 24, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry
Hard to rate this- A very skilled writer and craftsman but he does go on and on whining and says so. I suppose it is the downside of confessional poetry once you begin and you are mourning it is hard to stop.
Chris Lilly
Sep 08, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry
Overwrought, overcomplicated, and failed to engage me. A collection of poems mourning the death of his wife, and I spent too long wading through dense thickets of unilluminating metaphor to feel anything. For a considerable poet, this must represent a catastrophic failure, surely?
Jul 12, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry
Love Poem

When I fall in love,
I jockey my horse
into the flaming barn.

I hire a cabin
on the shiny Titanic.
I tease the black bear.

Reading the Monitor,
I scan the obituaries
looking for my name.
Josh Paul
Feb 11, 2008 rated it liked it
Shelves: poetry
Hall decided it would be fun to write an entire book of poems about his wife's death and his life generally falling apart. It's kind of depressing in places.
Feb 24, 2011 rated it it was amazing
This was one of the 2003 RUSA Notable Books winners. For the complete list, go to ...more
Feb 01, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry
Another great set of poems from my new favorite poet. Not as good as Without, but still a great collection.
Jennifer Terranova
May 10, 2009 rated it it was amazing
A book of poems from one of my favorite poets, written after his wife died of beast cancer. Have your tissues at the ready. . .
Kiri Stewart
Oct 27, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry
I think this might be better than Without, or at least its equal. Still, whatever the highest rating was, 5 or 50 or 5 million stars, both books would win it.
Jun 02, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Donald Hall at his best.
Elizabeth Thorpe
There are some great, five star poems in here, but the collection is uneven. It might be personal preference, but I think the New England poems are much stronger than the post-Jane love poems.
Shonna Froebel
Jan 19, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry
Too much explicit sex for my taste
Sep 26, 2010 rated it liked it
Donald Hall shuffles through widowerhood with his sidekick Gussie.
Dec 28, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Beautiful poems, along with his other volume, Without, chronicling the slow death of his beloved wife to cancer and the year following.
rated it liked it
Feb 16, 2008
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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

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