A Hundred White Daffodils
A Hundred White Daffodils
Essays, Interviews, the Akhmatova Translations, Newspaper Columns, and One Poem
Graywolf Press, Paperback, 9781555973087, 226pp.
Publication Date: August 1, 2000
In "A Hundred White Daffodils" - an enlightening and typically endearing collection of prose and poetry - the late author of five highly regarded books of verse reflects on her writing life, growing spirituality, passionate hobbies, and ultimately fatal struggle with leukemia. Jane Kenyon is one of the most beloved poets on the contemporary American scene; this book shows us why and how this came to be.
"What a thrill . . . to find such beauty and density of feeling in [these] skillfully controlled [Akhmatova] translations. Kenyon's sharply realized if understated short essays originally published in a local New Hampshire newspaper are also noteworthy; in them, she revisits the terrain of her poems, particularly such themes as religion, gardening, and the regenerative force of nature. In the transcripts of Kenyon's interviews with Bill Moyers, David Bradt, and Marian Blue, there is a determined poignancy. The woman who comes to life in these pages is witty, guileless, humble, and heartbreakingly intelligent. One is left wanting more, as if continuing the interviews could restore this vibrant person to life. The final installment in this volume is the unfinished poem, 'Woman, Why Are You Weeping?', startling in its deft foray into religious faith, Third-World crisis, and race relations. Like much of Kenyon's work, it is at once irresistible and devastating."—Publishers Weekly
"The book succeeds in illuminating a poet and woman of remarkable presence."—Library Journal
"[Kenyon] writes prose the way she writes poetry, turning simple or frankly unbeautiful things sideways and inviting us to see what they offer us to love. Some of the most moving essays here chronicle her quest to make peace with Christianity, and in an introduction, her husband, the poet Donald Hall, recalls a vision that left her 'in a quiet, exalted, shining mood.' We leave this book the same way."—The New Yorker
"The collection opens with 'Twenty Poems of Anna Akhmatova.' These breathtaking translations of the Russian poet are finely wrought with Kenyon's devotion to image and respect for Akhmatova's style and emotional intent. In the middle sections—her memoirs of religion in childhood and columns from her local newspaper—Kenyon is at her best describing elements of her garden . . . The final, previously unpublished poem . . . a meditation on how a trip to India challenged her Christian faith, makes a haunting, beautiful endnote . . . This posthumous collection offers a rich and varied look into the working life of a well-loved American poet."—Kirkus Reviews
"With the proliferation of self-help books promising happiness, love, and the power to want what you already have, perhaps it's time to rediscover the pleasures of art, peonies, walking the dog, and reading aloud in bed. There is no guru, no Zen master, no Oprah guest who can rekindle an appreciation for life more than poet Kenyon, who passed away in 1995 from leukemia. Her work is, in a word, scrupulous. Kenyon's care for every word and line is such that she rarely, if ever, misses. In this collection, her husband, poet Donald Hall, compiles Kenyon's translations of Russian poet Anna Akhmatova's poems; columns she wrote for The Concord Monitor on the crafts of poetry, hiking, friendship, and pruning her beloved gardens; and interviews in which she speaks openly and insightfully about her lifelong struggle with depression. Especially strong are her notes for a lecture entitled 'Everything I Know About Writing Poetry.' To her credit, 'Everything' is three pages long and ends with, 'Be a good steward of your gifts. Protect your time . . . Read good books, have good sentences in your ears. Be by yourself as often as you can. Walk.' If ever someone were to mandate a poet for aspiring poets to read, surely Kenyon should be that poet."—Colleen Corrigan