The dying of a beloved wife and fellow poet makes for a bleak and lonely tale. But Donald Hall's poignant and courageous poetry, facing that dread fact, involves us all: the magnificent, humorous, and gifted woman, Jane Kenyon, who suffered and died; the doctors and nurses who tried but failed to save her; the neighbors, friends, and relatives who grieved for her; the husband who sat by her while she lived and afterward sat in their house alone with his pain, self-pity, and fury; and those of us who until now had nothing to do with it.
Somewhere in the seemingly countless boxes of books I have in a storage unit, is a copy that I read many years ago. When a poet friend of mine mentioned this wonderful book during a conversation about Hall, I knew I couldn't wait any longer, I ordered the book. When I read it the first time, it tore me up with its intensity. This time it was much more personal and searingly brutal. I am off to find a quiet place under a tree where I can read and feel it all over again. In the back of my head, I can hear Vicky talking about what a masochist I am. It was something I never denied.