Wednesday

National Poetry Month and Donald Hall



And by their folded metal chairs you will know them. 

As in all things the exception so often saves the day. Donald Hall is an academic poet through and through. Every award, every right thing, every white list. He distains translation and spends far too much time peevish over 'dead metaphors'. He can't say enough about the evils of paraphrasing poetry and admittedly I am with him on that. All the same, for all those years spent metal-chaired he just doesn't look the part.  He is not fey. He is not especially well-groomed or well-dressed.

I doubt he would recognize a North Face jacket although I suspect he would know a Carhartt.  He has the look of a man who has just left a car parked slightly askew at the local liquor store five minutes before closing time. Rumpled and drowsy, much like my aging tomcat Teddie, who, however obvious the time for retirement may be, can't find it in his heart to give up his midnight trysts. Painful, the look of him crying his way home after yet one more near fatal fight. All of which he loses these days. No matter, these increasingly horrific wounds are the price he willingly pays for even failed love.  Hall has the same look about him.

And he wrote one of the very best pieces of epic poetry to come out of the late and misbegotten 20th century. I won't leave this particular National Poetry Month with nothing good to say after all.  I can't, no matter I suffer the dull knives of academia in my searches far too often.  I have also found the likes of Donald Hall.  And for him and his handful I will reach down for grace enough to acknowledge the fine.  For you, Donald Hall.  For your great poem, The One Day.