Affirmation by Donald Hall
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.
Donald Hall (1928-2018) was considered one of the preeminent writers of his generation. He authored more than fifty books across several genres but he is most well known for his poetry. He was awarded the National Medal of Arts in 2010, which is the highest honor the United States government bestows upon artists and arts patrons.
White Apples and the Taste of Stone: Selected Poems, 1946-2006, the collection from which today’s poem is taken, was published in 2006 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt and is now available to purchase wherever books are sold.
Thanks as always for being a faithful reader of The Voracious Bibliophile. If you like what you see, please like, comment, follow, and subscribe to my email list to get notified of new posts as soon as they drop. You can also email me at email@example.com or catch me on Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, and Pinterest @voraciousbiblog. Keep reading the world, one page (or pixel) at a time.