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Crossing The Pond With Poetry

Donald Hall, who will step down as poet laureate in June, joined Britain's Andrew Motion in a reading.
Donald Hall, who will step down as poet laureate in June, joined Britain's Andrew Motion in a reading. (By Ricky Carioti -- The Washington Post)

The lover in question was his high school girlfriend, Hall said, with whom he was soon to break up. But the lines also evoked his best-known work: the wrenching poetry he wrote about the death of his wife and fellow poet, Jane Kenyon, from leukemia in 1995.

He read some of that, too.

One poem was called "Her Garden," and Hall said he'd written it in stanza form -- perhaps there's hope for that transatlantic poetry connection yet -- "because of my extreme love of the poetry of Thomas Hardy."

I let her garden go.

let it go, let it go

How can I watch the

hummingbird

Hover to sip

With its beak's tip

The purple bee balm -- whirring

as we heard

It years ago?

The three-stop Laureates Tour began Monday in Chicago; it will end in London next month. To finish up last night, Hall read a poem called "On Reaching the Age of Two Hundred." It was full of laugh lines, and when the laughing was over, he walked off the stage to prolonged applause.


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