Text 12 Aug 22 notes

"[W]e lived in the house of poetry, which was also the house of love and grief; the house of solitude and art; the house of Jane’s depression and my cancers and Jane’s leukemia. When someone died whom we loved, we went back to the poets of grief and outrage, as far back as Gilgamesh; often I read aloud Henry King’s ‘The Exequy,’ written in the seventeenth century after the death of his young wife. Poetry gives the griever not release from grief but companionship in grief. Poetry embodies the complexities of feeling at their most intense and entangled, and therefore offers (over centuries, or over no time at all) the company of tears. As I sat beside Jane in her pain and weakness I wrote about pain and weakness. Once in a hospital I noticed that the leaves were turning. I realized that I had not noticed that they had come to the trees. It was a year without seasons, a year without punctuation. I began to write ‘Without’ to embody the sensations of lives under dreary, monotonous assault. After I had drafted it many times I read it aloud to Jane. ‘That’s it, Perkins,’ she said. ‘You’ve got it. That’s it.’ Even in this poem written at her mortal bedside there was companionship.”

— Donald Hall, The Third Thing

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