Affirmation

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.
 
Reproduced by permission of Houghton Mifflin Company. Copyright © 2002 by Donald Hall. All rights reserved.

Poems by This Author

Gold by Donald Hall
Pale gold of the walls, gold
Ox Cart Man by Donald Hall
In October of the year
Safe Sex by Donald Hall
If he and she do not know each other, and feel confident
The Painted Bed by Donald Hall
Even when I danced erect
The Things by Donald Hall
When I walk in my house I see pictures
Tubes by Donald Hall
"Up, down, good, bad," said
White Apples by Donald Hall
when my father had been dead a week


Further Reading

Poems About Aging
Abandonment Under the Walnut Tree
by D. A. Powell
Age
by Robert Creeley
Age and Death
by Emma Lazarus
Almost Sixty
by Jim Moore
Beyond the Years
by Paul Laurence Dunbar
Blues
by Elizabeth Alexander
Demeter in Paris
by Meghan O'Rourke
E.H.
by John Koethe
El Dorado
by Edgar Allan Poe
Fear of the Future
by John Koethe
First Gestures
by Julia Spicher Kasdorf
Fixed Interval
by Devin Johnston
Forgetfulness
by Billy Collins
Gerontion
by T.S. Eliot
Get Up, Please
by David Kirby
In View of the Fact
by A. R. Ammons
Looking Back in My Eighty-First Year
by Maxine Kumin
Moonlight
by Sara Teasdale
My Lost Youth
by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
My Skeleton
by Jane Hirshfield
Poem at Thirty
by Michael Ryan
Preparation
by Effie Waller Smith
Quiet
by Tony Hoagland
Refusing at Fifty-Two to Write Sonnets
by Thomas Lynch
Rock Me to Sleep
by Elizabeth Akers Allen
Self-Portrait
by Adam Zagajewski
Since Nine—
by C. P. Cavafy
The Chicago Poem
by Jerome Rothenberg
The Edges of Time
by Kay Ryan
The Human Seasons
by John Keats
The Tower
by W. B. Yeats
The Widows of Gravesend
by L. S. Asekoff
The Young Man's Song
by W. B. Yeats
this kind of fire
by Charles Bukowski
To a Young Girl at a Window
by Margaret Widdemer
To Chloe: Who for his sake wished herself younger
by William Cartwright
To Earthward
by Robert Frost
to my last period
by Lucille Clifton
To Think of Time
by Walt Whitman
Two Horses and a Dog
by James Galvin
When You are Old
by W. B. Yeats
Poems about Loss
Ashes
by Paula Meehan
Burning the Old Year
by Naomi Shihab Nye
Catastrophe Theory III
by Mary Jo Bang
Challenger
by Lyrae Van Clief-Stefanon
Dove, Interrupted
by Lucie Brock-Broido
Etta's Elegy
by Maureen Seaton
from Projection
by Lidija Dimkovska
Haunted
by Naomi Shihab Nye
Headaches
by Marilyn Hacker
Heavy Summer Rain
by Jane Kenyon
I Found Her Out There
by Thomas Hardy
I'll Try to Tell You What I Know
by Martha Serpas
Loss
by Carl Adamshick
Making Apple Sauce with my Dead Grandmother
by Bianca Stone
On Disappearing
by Major Jackson
please advise stop [I was dragging a ladder slowly over stones stop]
by Rusty Morrison
Radar Data #12
by Lytton Smith
Room in Antwerp
by Laure-Anne Bosselaar
Song ["When I am dead, my dearest"]
by Christina Rossetti
Stairway to Heaven
by Alison Hawthorne Deming
the lost baby poem
by Lucille Clifton
The Power of the Dog
by Rudyard Kipling
To My Oldest Friend, Whose Silence Is Like a Death
by Lloyd Schwartz
Token Loss
by Kay Ryan
When They Die We Change Our Minds About Them
by Jennifer Michael Hecht