The Painted Bed

The Painted Bed

by Donald Hall

Paperback(First Mariner Books Edition)

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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 in his WITHOUT (1998), but from the distance of passed time. A long poem, "Daylilies on the Hill 1975 - 1989," moves back to the happy repossession of the poet's old family house and its history - a structure that "persisted against assaults" as its generations of residents could not. These poems are by turns furious and resigned, spirited and despairing - "mania is melancholy reversed," as Hall writes in another long poem, "Kill the Day." In this book's fourth and final section, "Ardor," the poet moves toward acceptance of new life in old age; eros reemerges.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780618340750
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publication date: 05/01/2003
Edition description: First Mariner Books Edition
Pages: 108
Sales rank: 717,679
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.27(d)

About the Author

DONALD HALL (1928-2018) served as poet laureate of the United States from 2006 to 2007. He was a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters and a recipient of the National Medal of the Arts, awarded by the president.

Read an Excerpt

Her Garden

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 weeds rise rank and thick let it go, let it go Where annuals grew and burdock grows, Where standing she At once could see The peony, the lily, and the rose Rise over brick

She’d laid in patterns. Moss let it go, let it go Turns the bricks green, softening them By the gray rocks Where hollyhocks That lofted while she lived, stem by tall stem, Dwindle in loss.


To grow old is to lose everything.
Aging, everybody knows it.
Even when we are young, we glimpse it sometimes, and nod our heads when a grandfather dies.
Then we row for years on the midsummer pond, ignorant and content. But a marriage, that began without harm, scatters into debris on the shore, and a friend from school drops cold on a rocky strand.
If a new love carries us past middle age, our wife will die at her strongest and most beautiful.
New women come and go. All go.
The pretty lover who announces that she is temporary is temporary. The bold woman, middle-aged against our old age, sinks under an anxiety she cannot withstand.
Another friend of decades estranges himself in words that pollute thirty years.
Let us stifle under mud at the pond’s edge and affirm that it is fitting and delicious to lose everything.

Copyright © 2002 by Donald Hall. Reprinted by permission of Houghton Mifflin Company.

Table of Contents

The Painted Bedxv
I.Kill the Day1
1.The After Life11
2.The Purpose of a Chair
After Homer21
Folding Chair23
Her Intent24
Another Christmas27
The Perfect Life30
Distressed Haiku31
Throwing the Things Away35
3.Her Garden
Her Garden43
Summer Kitchen45
Wool Squares46
Proctor Graveyard47
Burn the Album48
The Touch49
Pond Afternoons50
Hours Hours51
The Wish52
Daylilies on the Hill 1975-198955
The Old Lover71
Conversation's Afterplay72
Charity and Dominion73
"Maison d'Aujourd'hui"77
Impossible Lovers79
The Peaceable Kingdom81
Love Poem84
Dread and Desire85
Out of Bed86

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Painted Bed 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Heartbreak. And the long, masterful 'Daylilies', about two centuries of his family members who have died in his farmhouse, poetry doesn't get better than this.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I was truly touched by this book. I felt that he captured a multitude of emotion quite beautifully. This book was so personal and focused on the writer's grief over losing his wife as well as everything they shared together. He embraced his struggle, their romance, sexual relationship, as well as his futile attempts at dating someone new. His emotions are raw on each page!!!!!! I absolutely loved this book!