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Saturday, September 21, 2019

Expressing 'The Beauty of Language'

“Poetry offers works of art that are beautiful, like paintings, which are my second favorite work of the art, but there are also works of art that embody emotion and that are kind of school for feeling. They teach how to feel, and they do this by the means of their beauty of language.” – Donald Hall

Born in Connecticut on Sept. 20, 1928, Hall authored more than 50 books across several genres from children's literature to biography, memoir and essays as well as  22 volumes of verse.  A graduate of both Harvard and Oxford he was the first poetry editor of The Paris Review, and was noted for interviewing poets and other authors on their craft.       He also was America’s 14th Poet Laureate, recipient of the National Medal of the Arts, and winner of the Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize for Lifetime Achievement.   For Saturday’s Poem, here is Hall’s,

       Ox Cart Man
In October of the year,
he counts potatoes dug from the brown field,
counting the seed, counting
the cellar's portion out,
and bags the rest on the cart's floor.

He packs wool sheared in April, honey
in combs, linen, leather
tanned from deerhide,
and vinegar in a barrel
hooped by hand at the forge's fire.

He walks by his ox's head, ten days
to Portsmouth Market, and sells potatoes,
and the bag that carried potatoes,
flaxseed, birch brooms, maple sugar, goose
feathers, yarn.

When the cart is empty he sells the cart.
When the cart is sold he sells the ox,
harness and yoke, and walks
home, his pockets heavy
with the year's coin for salt and taxes,

and at home by fire's light in November cold
stitches new harness
for next year's ox in the barn,
and carves the yoke, and saws planks
building the cart again.

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