Friday, February 20, 2015


My daughter Margaret is a senior editor at Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, which means I occasionally get a pre-publication copy of a favorite author.  And so it is that I am reading Donald Hall's latest, Essays After Eighty, with a lovely close-up photo of the grizzled old poet on the cover.

Hall, 85, claims he no longer has the mental agility for poetry - that most demanding of the language arts.  His essays however are as quick and lively as ever.  Prose after eighty.

I dabbled in poetry as a young man, but quickly gave it up; even then I knew I lacked the wherewithal.  Now, as I approach eighty, prose too is slipping from my (quaky, Parkinson) grasp.

Some of you have recommended voice-transcription software, but, like Hall, my greatest pleasure in writing is revision.  And so I slip into silence.

I may not have Donald Hall's considerable gifts of poetry and prose, but I increasingly share his octogenarian fondness for naps.